TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Byrd was on the front lines during this Saturday's protests... and afterward shared his reflections as a black man and public servant in a deeply personal post shared to Facebook.
"Last night, I felt the desire to see a system of inequity and injustice burn while, at the same time, understanding the need to fulfill my duty to limit the physical destruction of property and people," Chief Brian Byrd reads from his Facebook post.
When Chief Byrd wrote this Sunday morning, he was reflecting on his role as a father.
A father who was concerned for his son's safety during Saturday's protest.
"He called me and he asked me where was the best place to park and I asked him to not come because I saw how things were beginning to unfold," Byrd said.
When in reality, he wanted to be standing right next to his community in solidarity.
"It had the potential to be a really bad situation and I had to balance my feelings and my overall anger about what sparked this protest," Byrd said.
Chief Byrd can take his uniform off at the end of the day, but he can't remove his skin... and when that uniform comes off, he's seen what many in that crowd have experienced. Like a confrontation with officers while coaching a youth sports team.
"When the interaction was over, which was not a pleasant interaction, and all we're doing is walking kids to practice, I had a twin year old boy look at me and say 'See coach, when you're not in your uniform, you an't nothing but another n-word just like the rest of us,'" Byrd said.
So, he plans to keep advocating in his role as Fire Chief for Toledo to be better... using the experiences from this weekend.
The protests Saturday were spurred by the video of George Floyd, who died in Minnesota police custody after an officer knelt on his neck for about nine minutes while detaining him. That now-fired officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; three other officers were fired but have not been charged.
The protest Saturday wasn't about the singular George Floyd incident, however. Demonstrators rallied to draw attention to issues with chronic police brutality directed at blacks.
The following is Chief Byrd's post:
Last night my soul was torn....
Last night, as I do EVERY night, I faced the fact that I was a black man BEFORE becoming a civil servant.
Last night, as I do EVERY night, I faced the fact that I AM a black man WHILE I work as a civil servant.
Last night, as I do EVERY night, I had to face the fact that I WILL BE a black man AFTER I am a civil servant.
Last night, I felt the same anger and rage over the very issues being protested...because those same recurring issues affect me, my sons, my family...
Last night, while trying to manage the chaos sparked by the same anger that I FEEL, I have to beg my son to not take part because I see the potential consequences of not only his actions, but the actions of others...as I watched the night unfold.
Last night, I had to balance the responsibility of my duty with praying that I don't see the face of my son looking at me in disappointment because I asked him not to participate...when he knows that I really want to stand beside him with my fist raised...because he knows that I know his pain.
Last night, I felt the desire to see a system of inequity and injustice burn...while, at the same time, understanding the need to fulfill my duty to limit the physical destruction of property and people...especially of people who feel that same pain that I feel.
THIS MORNING, as I look at the sunshine, I still feel....LAST NIGHT