A short while ago, one of my longtime Facebook friends criticized the Racket News for a meme that we ran on Facebook and Twitter. The meme, repeated below, was not intended to be offensive. It simply featured the Capitol Police officers who testified before the January 6 commission and stated, “I’m with them.”
The poster was critical of the Racket and asked if we had posted a similar meme in support of police during the BLM riots in the summer of 2020. Well, I have to confess that we actually did not. The Racket debuted on December 7, 2020, so we weren’t around then to post such memes. (To be fair, he did retract this criticism.)
But that doesn’t mean that we didn’t support the police during the riots. Those of you who followed me at The Resurgent may remember that I wrote a number of articles condemning the riots and supporting good cops who opposed them. But I also was openly critical of bad cops like the officers who killed George Floyd and set off the riots.
Now, I’ll agree that police officers deserve some accolades and respect simply for having the courage and dedication to put on the uniform. I’ll even agree that officers deserve some benefit of the doubt since they are often in tough situations that require split-second decisions.
But the flip side is that some cops abuse the power that is delegated to them. Some use their authority to bully citizens and commit crimes. Some just aren’t up to the very difficult task of community policing.
While I strongly opposed the actions of the rioters, I also believe that a police response that was too heavy-handed in some areas was also inappropriate. For example, using tear gas against peaceful demonstrators was both ironic and counterproductive considering the fact that the protests, many of which really were nonviolent, were in opposition to police brutality.
A low point was when police in Buffalo were videotaped roughly pushing a 75-year-old man to the ground. The man was injured in the fall, but assault charges against the cops were ultimately dropped.
This incident was bad, but it was far from the only instance of police brutality across the country last summer. Indianapolis police tear-gassed a peaceful prayer rally in June. This incident led to a lawsuit in which the Indianapolis Metro Police Department changed its policy to prohibit the use of “riot control agents” against passive resistance and peaceful protests.
In another example of what seems to be a clear Fourth Amendment violation, Minneapolis police in riot gear fired paintballs at residents sitting peacefully on the porch of their own home to force them inside. The examples of police heavy-handedness are too numerous to mention, but Greg Doucette collected many of them in a Twitter thread with more than 1,200 comments, many of which are videos of alleged brutality.
There was also good policing last summer. Many police defused potentially explosive situations by showing sympathy for the protesters. Some even marched with them. Sometimes force is needed and sometimes force is counterproductive.
I’m not saying that all cops are bad any more than I’m saying, “Believe all women,” but neither are all cops good. The appropriate way to handle both claims of police brutality and claims of sexual assault is to look at the evidence and decide what the truth is in that particular case.
Cameras help us determine what the truth is. For most of our history, it was the word of police against the word of citizens. Most often the police would win. Now video is an objective measure of who is telling the truth. I’m a firm believer that cops who act reasonably have nothing to fear from cameras. It is the bad cops - or good cops who make bad decisions such as the Minneapolis officer who accidentally shot Daunte Wright - who are being outed by videos.
There were a lot of good cops during the BLM riots, but there were also some really bad ones. The cops who did their jobs honorably deserve to be applauded, but there should be consequences for the ones who stepped over the line. I won’t go into qualified immunity here, but the doctrine is a judge-created travesty that needs to be reformed so that bad officers and departments can be held accountable and a higher standard of behavior can be set.
There were also bad cops on the Capitol Police force on January 6. At least six Capitol Police officers were suspended for their actions during the insurrection. This was not for being too harsh on the rioters but for joining them. These actions included taking selfies with rioters, putting on a MAGA hat, and giving the attackers directions inside the Capitol.
But the four officers who testified before the congressional hearings were good cops. They did their jobs honorably and then were snubbed by the party that claims to “Back the Blue.” This snub wasn’t because they did their jobs poorly but because…
I don’t think there really is one reason. Some of the radical MAGA crowd hate them because they didn’t join the mob. I think a lot of people on the right expected the police to join the revolution. When they failed to do so, the mob became vicious.
Even more than that, however, I think that the Capitol Police who are speaking out about the insurrection are an embarrassment to the Republican Party. They are a reminder that elements of the GOP led by Donald Trump tried to stage a coup and overthrow the constitutional order. Republicans would like to forget about January 6 and the Capitol Police won’t let them.
So, yes. I stand with the Capitol Police and with good cops everywhere. Proudly.