A Lynnwood police officer was the target of a racist tirade that was captured on video.
The video begins with Officer A.J. Burke who was simply doing his job back in April when he suddenly found himself the target of an expletive-filled, racist tirade.
“You are my n*****. You work for me. You are my slave. You work for me,” the man recording the incident said at one point.
“When that guy was yelling racial slurs at me, it was very painful but,” Burke said. “It made me think of all the other people who have been in that situation who don't have that authority.”
As a black man who works in law enforcement, Burke identifies in both communities that, sometimes, appear to be at odds with each other - especially right now, with daily protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
“It’s tough with the climate right now to do the job and to know that you're trying to do the right thing and people are going to look at you, in a certain right, they're going to prejudge you because you're wearing the uniform. A lot of guys are feeling that right now. On the other side of that, it's how it is to be an African American man in our country,” Burke explained.
The video posted online is 6 minutes long but Burke said the racist rant lasted an hour. The man spewing the hate is well known for antagonizing the Lynnwood Police Department where Burke serves as the only black patrol officer in the city. This was Burke’s first encounter with him but he has experienced his share of racism - on and off the job. And he knows how he responds is important.
“I represent so much. Being a black man, wearing the uniform as law enforcement, I represent so much to so many people. And I can’t let them down. I can’t lose my cool. I have to be professional,” Burke added.
Though the weight is heavy on his shoulders, Burke - who grew up in the projects of South Bronx a father of two and an air force veteran - doesn't shy away from the responsibilities.
“I take a lot of pride in being the face of change.” Burke said.
But beyond his oath to serve and protect, Burke is willing to listen even if he doesn't agree. It's how he believes the country can begin to repair its racial divide.
“I preach humanity, I preach unity, I preach equality as much as I can. And we need to look out for one another in these times and just listen to people,” said Burke.
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