Familiar Refrains

There’s something insincere about the disgust and indignity voiced by many who are critiquing the actions and behavior of the police.

This is not a defense, by any means, of the actions of those who took George Floyd’s life. And don’t get me started on the disaster that is Donald Trump and his wildly inept leadership since day one. This is more a reaction to what’s happened since Floyd’s death, especially in the media, in the late night monologues, and in general conversation.

There seems to be a prominent voice proclaiming that the police have over-reacted to the protests. Brought a nuclear bomb to a fist fight. The inference seems to be that these numerous descents into chaos and violence we’ve seen on TV have happened in no small part because the police are instigators, or at least exhibiting short fuses, and showing up in force with more gear than the protesters.

It just seems too easy to take pot shots from the sidelines while law enforcement personnel are the ones encountering these dangerous situations. Of course they’re going to come prepared. Their lives are on the line on a daily basis. Why would they enter a fray with one hand tied behind their back? Their first thought may not be, “How do we exhibit nuanced, kinder and gentler, law enforcement here?”

What’s often rattling around in my brain is the thought that we hold law enforcement personnel to an unrealistic standard of bravery and restraint. None of them are invincible superheroes with special powers. They’re trained to not take shit from anyone, yet are also expected to be diplomatic and patient, to make split-second, situational fight-or-flight decisions. Seems like a lot to expect from anyone in the heat of a volatile moment.

The unfortunate part, or one of them, is that peaceful protesters don’t get special dispensation. They don’t wear passes or possess some magic immunity that keeps them from being lumped together with those who apparently show up to incite violence and in general take a more “proactive” stance against injustice. Law enforcement appears not to want to take the time to distinguish between the two groups. Maybe they should.

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