I’ve said before and will repeat now, there’s absolutely no doubt that police officers will do things they ought not while dealing with various situations in the course of their time on duty.
This should come as a surprise to literally nobody. You spend your day or night (who knows how many hours), dealing with folks of all different stripes. Some are harshly critical, some helpful or innocuous, some downright dangerous.
One example of such an interaction can be seen in the video found on YouTube in which an officer pushes a senior citizen who seems to be acting as a “minor irritant” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCISe83UUgI&feature=youtu.be).
It needs to be well understood by anybody reading, that this sort of thing is not happening in a vacuum. If you question that, you should view the video also found on YouTube, that shows police being attacked in various situations by rioters and looters nationwide (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=golcfC5kyrc).
I’ve never officially been a police officer—I spent some time doing what amounted to guard duty under far less difficult circumstances in the military and I can tell you, that was difficult enough. It’s hard to imagine just what the level of stress is for officers interacting with and reacting to protesters, rioters, and looters.
In saying that, you need to realize that I am not trying to excuse the misbehavior of law enforcement, and that this is particularly true when the police react badly; and that’s regardless whether their responses are legal or not.
I’ve said, and maintain to this moment, that just as with the people with whom they’re dealing those upholding law need to be held to account when they behave in ways that are problematic.
That said, I’d like to take just a moment to look at the difference I see presented in the videos listed above, with regard to the response and subsequent reaction of the officers and the civilians in the two.
As I’ve said, the first video “features” a veritable wall of law officers who appear to be generally attempting to clear (as peacefully as possible) , some area in or around Buffalo, New York.
In the video, somebody who’s pretty obviously not with the officers begins to attempt to interact with one of the team of officials. The cop seems not just to be uninterested, but appears to believe the outsider to his team to be intent on mild harassment. To be fair that last observation is my own, and may not be correct.
The person with whom the agent is dealing touches him or something he’s holding, the official pushes him quite lightly, the individual stumbles backwards and falls to the ground (with no contact by any other human being at this point). Though the video doesn’t show it, it appears pretty obvious he hits his head.
Directly after the event, another part of the team can be seen on his radio, we assume calling for someone to help the fellow who has just basically stumbled and fallen to ground—granted, after being pushed lightly.
Quite aside from the fact that the patrolman or similar used no weapon against the harmed individual, he also appears not to have been interested in inflicting any kind of harm. His sole interest seems to be in getting the fellow to leave him be and move on.
In most any other setting, if something like this happened, it would actually be considered an accident not chargeable to law enforcement, but to the man who was lightly pushed, who then stumbled and fell. This is particularly true if there was video to show what had happened, which in this case, there was.
I would be remiss in saying all interactions between men in blue—related to the protests/riots/looting or not—were this clear-cut. In fact, I would be errant in saying there weren’t flagrant cases of wrongdoing by police. You can be sure that’s not my position. It is my position that these improper actions are fewer and farther between than most seem to desire to claim.
Equally, it can be said that the “getaway driver” that “ran over” the officer in the second video, very likely did so in the heat of the moment. That’s not really an excuse. When driving typically a thousand pounds or more of motor vehicle, even in difficult situations, care must be taken. Still, it’s at least understandable that something like what did happen could happen.
There are a large number of other events in the second video though—including an attack on an officer by a small group of others—that are far from questionable. From all I’m able to tell, these are not isolated incidents. If you wonder why officers are concerned for their safety, and why they may be just a little more prone to make errors, you should know, this sort of thing certainly factors in.
Keep in mind too, if a law enforcer or other official goes down, it’s not likely to be the people who caused that to happen who deal with the fallout, nor is it likely to be civilians at all. Rather, the person affected will generally have to be found by parts of his or her team, or others in official positions before any assistance is rendered. Then there’s the inevitable wait for EMTs or similar to arrive and stabilize the situation if things are sufficiently bad.
In short, people in blue bleed red too.
I’m not trying to give law enforcement and their ilk a “pass.” If they do things wrong, those things need addressed and the punishment should fit the crime, as it were. I do want to point out though, that what I’m seeing police and similar do wrong, doesn’t appear to be a matter of direction by superiors and others. Further, with the incident in the video, it doesn’t even seem to have been purposeful. Again, that’s not to say other instances are even as innocent as this one.
On the other hand, what’s happening to officials at this point is often literally criminal and when not, still often very inappropriate.
I’m willing to hear that law enforcement is acting badly when it occurs. I’m even willing to say it’s institutional or systemic when it is—something I don’t see as a rule. Are you willing to find fault with looters, rioters and protesters? I certainly hope so.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.