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Minority officers vow to oppose candidates who support Davis

In front of an audience that included multiple mayoral candidates, the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers today vowed to “vigorously oppose” any mayoral candidate who would keep Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis in their administration.

In a crowded news conference at their headquarters on Columbia Road in Dorchester, the association’s leadership again called for Davis’ resignation. They outlined grievances with their leadership -- most notably the failure to promote and retain officers of color and disparities in discipline handed out to black officers and white ones.

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Minority officers have long criticized the lack of minority officers in the top ranks of the police force, but that frustration boiled over last month.

The group’s president, Lenny Ellison, slammed Davis for his demotion of Detective Jerome Hall-Brewster, a black officer, whom Davis publicly criticized for Hall-Brewster’s failure to previously arrest the suspected murderer of 24-year-old Amy Lord.

“Commissioner Davis’ actions in front of a crowd last in South Boston has only made things worse in communities that already have a somewhat strained relationship when it comes to race,” Ellison said. “The message is clear: Separate and unequal.”

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Adding insult to injury, Ellison said, was the promotion of five white officers to the rank of supervisor last week while nine candidates of color who scored the same on the civil service exam did not initially receive promotions.

While leaders of the MAMLEO and the local NAACP chapter made it clear they want Davis gone, none of the mayoral candidates on hand went quite that far in their comments.

City Councilor Mike Ross, who chairs the council’s Public Safety committee, decried the lack of diversity in the police department and touted his public safety plan -- but did not mention Davis directly.

“It’s not acceptable that we do not have a single senior female superintendent. It’s not acceptable that we do not have a single district captain who is a person of color,” Ross said. “This needs to change and, when I’m mayor, it will change.”

While the event was called by Ross, a handful of other mayoral hopefuls jumped into the fray.

City Councilor and mayoral candidate Charles Yancey delivered a passionate address on the need for more diversity in the police ranks and for more attention to be paid to violent crime in minority communities.

“How can we have a city of Boston that’s 53 percent people of color and not have one person of color heading up any of the 11 police districts in the city of Boston?” Yancey asked, above applause.

Mayoral candidate Charles Clemons, a former Boston Police officer, was also on hand but did not address the crowd. Councilor Felix Arroyo, meanwhile, issued a statement during the event echoing many of MAMLEO’s concerns.

“I believe the concerns outlined by MAMLEO are legitimate,’’ Arroyo said. ““As I have said before, I would give Commissioner Davis an opportunity if he expressed interest in staying on.

“However as mayor, I would hold the Police Commissioner accountable that our police department reflect our neighborhoods, both at the patrol officer and leadership levels, and if he was unable to do that, I would make a change to ensure it happened,” he said.

Wesley Lowery can be reached at wesley.lowery@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesleyLowery.
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