A circuit judge has objected to comments from a court security instructor who reportedly referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group during a training session in Hot Springs last week.
The instructor’s company denied the comments were made.
In a letter sent Monday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen said staff reported that instructor Ronnie Boudreaux labeled Black Lives Matter as a hate group like the Ku Klux Klan, an organization responsible for domestic terrorism.
The comments came during a training session organized by the Arkansas Court Officers Association, an organization for bailiffs, court security officers and probation officers, among others, said the association’s vice president, James Everett.
Boudreaux is an instructor with Advanced Law Enforcement Readiness Training, a Georgia-based company the association brought in to provide classroom training in Hot Springs.
“When members of my staff questioned Instructor Boudreaux about his comment, he identified Black Lives Matter among a list of ‘threat groups,’” Griffen wrote in the letter.
Griffen wrote that the instructor incorrectly described the movement as a “hate” or “threat” group and said the labels were baseless.
Michael Thompson, the owner and president of the company, called the judge’s account a “total mischaracterization” and said Boudreaux did not call Black Lives Matter a hate group.
“That was never said in the classroom,” he said, adding that the instructor did not compare the movement to the Ku Klux Klan.
According to Thompson, after Boudreaux was approached about how the movement was portrayed, he addressed the full class and said Black Lives Matter was not a terrorist organization, in an attempt to clear up any misunderstanding.
Thompson said that Black Lives Matter was mentioned during the training among groups that “might cause problems in a courtroom.” He said the company included Black Lives Matter in the training because some people associated with the movement have called for harm to law enforcement in the past.
“Our company does not label Black Lives Matter as a terrorist group,” he said.
Griffen, in his letter, said the movement does not and has not endorsed violence against police.
“No authorized spokesperson for BLM has done so, and BLM has explicitly condemned hateful comments by others that have suggested or encouraged that anyone engage in violence against or toward law enforcement officers,” Griffen wrote in the letter.
And, Griffen added, Black Lives Matter has not been labeled as a terrorist organization by Congress or any federal or state law enforcement agency.
In an interview Monday, Griffen said the comments spoke volumes to the “cultural incompetence” at work.
Griffen’s letter was addressed to an official with the Administrative Office of the Courts. It said the office had sponsored the training. Marty Sullivan, director of the office, wrote on Monday that the office had no staff at the meeting and that the training was not an official meeting sanctioned by the office.
“That said, I don’t disagree with Judge Griffen. Black Lives Matter has never been designated a terrorist organization, and I disavow this instructor’s comments,” Sullivan said in a written statement.
About 77 people participated in the training on Thursday and about 74 people participated on Friday, said Everett, who works as a court security officer. Participants in the training included bailiffs, court security officers and probation officers, along with police officers and sheriff’s deputies, he said.
Everett said it was the first time the association had hired Advanced Law Enforcement Readiness Training.
The company was formed in 1999 and provides training on court security, including how to screen the public, how to make a building safer and how to handle a high-profile trial, according to Thompson.
Print Headline: Security trainer’s threat-group talk rouses judge’s ire