The Bend Police Department has announced it will no longer refer to a K9 as “Lil Kim” following community members registering their displeasure over its name as they deemed it offensive.
According to Fox News, Riccardo Waites, the founder of the Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly, said he had a meeting with Bend Police Chief Mike Krantz to discuss the dog’s name and voice concerns over it.
“It’s a little tiny black dog, K9 dog, that the police call ‘Lil’ Kim.’ If you’re a person of color, or if you’re a fan of Lil’ Kim, you know her significance in Hip Hop. You also know that she’s a gangster rapper,” he said in the video on Thursday.
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Though the controversy surrounding the dog’s name stems from the fact that it shares the same moniker as Grammy-award-winning rapper Lil Kim, the police department denied it was named after her. Nevertheless, Chief Krantz said they’ll refer to the dog, a Belgian Malinois shepherd, as “Kim” from henceforth.
“Although the dog is not named after a musician, it’s important to recognize that some people may assume that or believe that,” he told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “I think in the eyes of some community members there is a connection historically to the use of dogs, specifically on protestors and Black community members, and that, that could bring a fear of canines.”
Krantz also told OPB they gave the dog that nickname because of its small size as compared to the other K9s on the force.
The use of police dogs to intimidate Black people has a long history in the United States. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, German shepherds were used by White officers to clamp down on Black protesters in the south. Several photos show them aggressively charging at and sometimes attacking the Black protesters.
“While it may appear a small or inconsequential matter to some, it is not to those of us who remember how police dogs were used against peacefully protesting civil rights workers and People of Color in the 1960s and are still used as a means of crowd control and intimidation today,” Waites told the news outlet.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Waites also commended the department for “stepping up and listening to [the] community” after they announced they’ll be dropping the controversial nickname.