…that the unprecedented rift between DISD board president Bill Keever and Dallas police chief Ben Click might have been avoided had Keever followed a game plan laid out by police officials in a meeting prior to the ugly confrontation at the May 23 school board meeting, during which several members of the New Black Panther party were arrested. Sources say that police had been tipped off as to the Panthers’ modus operandi that night and counseled patience. But Keever blew his cool early in the meeting and called for the protesters to be subdued.
The Panthers then vowed to bring guns to the next board meeting, which led Keever to cancel the meeting and mutter publicly that the police weren’t doing enough to maintain order. Click then took the highly unusual step, in a prepared statement, of scolding Keever for placing the police in “an adversarial position with the community.” Click also advised Keever to ” [get] out into the community” and earn the trust of the public, adding that he would not “place the control of our officers under the auspices of the Dallas school board president.”
It was all peace pipes a few days later when Click, Keever and Mayor Ron Kirk appeared at a joint news conference. Keever zigzagged again, saying he should have been “more tolerant” of the protesters. Those present pledged unity in solving the district’s racial problems. But a police department spokesman acknowledged that Chief Click’s statement had been cleared at least up to the level of assistant city manager Levi Davis. And some City Hall watchers say that the mayor, stung by critics who charged that he had not done enough to defuse the crisis, enjoyed watching the warning shot sail across Keever’s bow.