Captain Carri Weber has been placed on leave after calling out a fellow officer.
If you’ve ever expressed feminist views on the internet or IRL, you will know that some men do not respond well to the suggestion that they might have benefited in any way from their gender. Mention the lack of women in executive roles, and they’ll furiously tell you that more men than women work as street sweepers and coal miners. Join the #MeToo movement with a Facebook status, and they’ll respond by telling you that men can also be sexually assaulted, as though that hadn’t occurred to you. These men do not believe in the existence of the patriarchy, and they certainly do not accept that being born male has helped them at all.
If you’re (relatively) lucky, you will only have to contend with men like this in the pub or online. But if you’re extremely unlucky, you might find yourself getting suspended from work for reminding a white, male co-worker of his privilege.
That’s what happened recently to a female police captain in the US. According to the Washington Post, Captain Carri Weber has been placed on paid administrative leave from an Indiana police force after she told another officer that he had “white male privilege”.
The incident took place at a training session for police officers on how to interact with members of the transgender community. Officers were told during the seminar that transgender people are more than three times as likely to be the victim of police violence as cisgender people, a statistic from a 2012 report by the US National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
However, this information was questioned by an unnamed male officer from the Plainfield Police Department. In a video of the event, he is heard to say: “My wife has never been part of police violence. Most of the people that I know have never been, accused the police of violence. So I guess I don’t get where that statistic comes from.”
Weber retorted: “‘Cause your white male privilege, so you wouldn’t know.”
The officer reacted angrily to Weber’s remark.
“Chief, you gonna let [unintelligible] get away with that? Seriously?” he said. “I’m asking a legitimate question here, and I’m getting [unintelligible] white privilege?”
He then yelled: “Are you serious? I find that extremely offensive.”
Of course, there is nothing more offensive than reminding a straight, white, cisgender man that he might not know everything about the lives of oppressed minorities. As a result, the unnamed officer has now filed a formal complaint against Weber, alleging that he has been the victim of discrimination.
“I was racially and sexistly slurred by Captain Carri Weber while I was asking a question of the instructor in training,” he wrote in the complaint. “I am now firmly aware of the discriminatory belief she just verbally communicated… There is no place in the Plainfield Police administration or supervision for someone who holds and espouses her discriminatory views.”
Weber has been placed on leave since mid-November, and a vote on her future with Plainfield Police Department is due to take place on 6 December.
It is not clear why the officer in question thought that he and his wife’s experiences of police brutality gave him the authority to question the information about violence against transgender people. In fact, it seems like an example of precisely the kind of blinkered viewpoint that Weber called him out for.
Here’s hoping she doesn’t lose her job for telling it like it is.
Main image: YouTube / ABC News