Prosecutor says posting poorly worded, not racist

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Prosecutor says posting poorly worded, not racist

COEUR d'ALENE — A Kootenai County deputy prosecutor said Tuesday that a Facebook comment he made, suggesting genocide could happen if police stop patrolling black neighborhoods, was misunderstood.

Bryant Bushling, a deputy prosecutor here for five years, made and then edited a comment in response to a meme posted Sunday on the Facebook wall of Kootenai County Bailiff Todd Hartman. In a phone conversation with The Press Tuesday, Bushling said he edited the comment because it was not received in the way he intended.

The meme in question shows a photo of a white police officer and has text that states, "if we really wanted you dead all we'd have to do is stop patrolling your neighborhood... and wait." In his original response, Bushling wrote the following:

"Great point. Where the police are under attack from politicians, and the police become less aggressive, the murder rates go up. I say, let them have their neighborhoods. They will be like Rwanda in a matter of weeks."

After the comment yielded negative feedback — which Bushling said was the result of the comment being misinterpreted — he edited it to read as follows:

"If you have never qualified as a gang expert in court, have not interviewed hundreds of gangsters and those terrorized by them, have never walked gang-infested streets, have not attended numerous hours of gang training, have not handled 100s if not 1000s of gang cases, have never participated in gang raids and seen these thugs in their environment — in short, if you know nothing — but feel the need to comment on my posting without first asking me, then you are just an insignificant slithering coward."

Bushling told The Press he worked as a gang prosecutor for half of his career in Los Angeles and, as a result, understands "this incredible mentality that can lead to the kind of genocide we see all around the world where people hate each other for silly reasons."

"I really see the gang mentality involved here, at least with the Black Lives movement to some extent — it's not all them," Bushling added. "My point is that there are innocent people out there and if you keep putting pressure on police, murder rates go up when you do that. When you put pressure on police, we've seen it in Baltimore and other places, the police kind of back off and they don't get involved with shaking down shady characters or find guns they should be finding because they're afraid of getting in trouble."

The deputy prosecutor said he was posting under the assumption that everyone knows police will not withdraw. His point, he said, was that "the false narrative that police are being harsher with some people than others for no reason" needs to stop.

Bushling stressed that he agrees the original comment was "very poorly worded," and said people need to be fair with police, or society will suffer.

"I don't think there's anyone who can make a credible argument that I'm racist, I just don't believe it can be done," Bushling said. "I've been a public servant for 33 years. I've always had an excellent reputation. You can't find anyone I've worked with who doesn't believe I am not a fair and impartial public servant."

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh is on vacation, and was unavailable to comment.

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