A few weeks ago (wow, maybe a couple of months already), I got a call asking for donations for some group supporting our brave, misunderstood, and oft-attacked police officers. Recent news events made it very easy to hang up on them, but as soon as I did, I regretted not having asked the rep what the organization’s official stance was on the Tamir Rice shooting (this gives you several possible time-frames for when I got the call). This time around, it was an email, not a phone call, and I want to take a bit of time to unpack it.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund sent me a plea:
No. I will not back down. Not as long as cops are being ambushed and executed. Not while all cops are being vilified with one big, broad brush. Not while the men and women who form the “thin blue line” are marked with targets on their backs.
Someone has to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement. I am there. I believe you will be right beside me.
Officers are the most visible and vulnerable symbols of the freedoms we so dearly cherish. They lay down their lives for us. Shouldn’t we honor and remember their service and sacrifice, support the families left behind, and do our part to make it safer for those who continue to serve?
“Officers”, and “they”. Inclusive nouns. Not “some officers”, or even “most officers”. They lay down their lives for us. “Us”. All of us. None of this disproportionate response by race that we see in those pesky statistics. They have targets on their backs. Their backs–You know, where Walter Scott was shot by Officer Slager. Someone has to stand up for these officers! Because when they go to court…. well, they are set free, mostly. Sometimes, like with Derron Wilson, they get donations. Depending on who you ask, perhaps as much as a million bucks. So, yeah, he needs people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him.
I’m writing to ask you to make a bold, brave, big statement on behalf of our heroes. Please sign this TRIBUTE CARD in support of this nation’s 900,000 federal, state, and local law enforcers. Will you please do that right now, [Cuttlefish]?
What has happened to America?
Well, for one thing, the “thin blue line” is now wearing camouflaged body armor… oh, sorry, you were saying?
In Ferguson, MO, “Hands up, don’t shoot!” has become THE rallying cry, pronouncing police “guilty” from the erroneous recounting of the Michael Brown event. Never before has revisionist history been accepted as fact so quickly. Never mind that an investigation by the Department of Justice concluded that there was no police malfeasance and exonerated law enforcement’s action on that unfortunate day.
Did you actually read the DoJ report? Here it is; read it. Read it all. Or here is a story in the Atlantic that summarizes it, with lots of quotes. The report describes, with plenty of evidence, a police department that acted like an organized crime syndicate, focused not on upholding the law, or keeping the peace, but on fleecing the community, maximizing revenue through fines and interest. As the Atlantic article puts it, “Ferguson officials leeched off the black community as shamelessly as would mafia bosses.”
The particular narrative Officer Wilson eventually came up with could not be disproven by the report, but a thorough look through the DoJ report would let one conclude that if “there was no police malfeasance… on that unfortunate day”, it must have been a bit of an off-day.
Revisionist history? The nerve of citing the DoJ report on Ferguson in defense of the Ferguson cops is one of the worst attempts I have seen at revising history. Again, read it. Read the whole thing.
Several months later, two New York City police officers sitting in a marked patrol car were brutally assassinated. It was sickening to read the killer’s social media posting before the murders: “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today.”
That was terribly sad. He had also shot his girlfriend, the night before. You could also mention the Las Vegas shootings–those two were specifically looking for cops to kill. Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever hear about that couple when I hear people talk about the dangerous folks police have to deal with. I wonder why you wouldn’t want to point fingers at militant white supremacists, when they are so willing to point guns at you.
I can’t even imagine what it must be like for our peace officers, or the families of officers killed in the line of duty, to hear a mob in New York City chant, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want them? Now.”
Again, that was horrible. I have two thoughts about it–the first is, it seemed so out of place for the movement, I had to double check whether it really happened… and I found sources I trust, grudgingly accepting that the incident must have happened, noting that it happened outside the scope of the other protests of the day (as clearly evidenced by the street lights and dark sky, when the major marches were daytime events), and denouncing that group as not part of the main movement. I have not seen the same from police officers, when their own have crossed the line (aside from one, a former Baltimore officer). Rather, there is pressure to protect the fraternity of the police… as the current letter exemplifies.
But my second thought was the horrible one. I mean, yes, it has to be terrible to hear such a chant. And with no provocation whatsoever (oh, wait–it was in response to another police killing of an unarmed black man?), too. I mean, you never want the people you work for to think you are doing a bad job (oh, yeah, the police “protect and serve” the people, and this is a very bad job review). But can you imagine what it must be like to hear one of those officers, the people you were told would help you, the people who enforce the law, who protect and serve, when they have you helpless, unarmed, on the ground, (oh, yeah, and accidentally shot by a wannabe-cop), when you plead “I can’t breath”… can you imagine what it must be like to hear a cop say “fuck your breath“.
But yeah, I guess we need people to stand up for that cop, to stand shoulder to shoulder with that cop. It’s too late to stand with the victim; he’s dead.
Will you prove to these cops and their families that you care? Will you show them that Americans like you respect their call of duty? Will you help me honor the fallen and their families, and make it safer for those who continue to serve?
Hm…. what would make it safer for those who continue to serve would be for cops to take responsibility, to refuse to hide the bad cops, to refuse to contribute to a closed-ranks, confrontational, antagonistic system where the people they are supposed to protect and serve are viewed instead as the enemy.
The rest of the letter is just asking for money, so I won’t quote it here.
Oh, yeah, this is a doggerel blog. Can’t be too serious here.
Let’s all have fun with revisionist history!
Polish our narrative; re-write the past!
Facts are against us? We’ll shroud them in mystery!
Villains and victims, we simply re-cast!