I woke up this morning to a nation reeling from the ambush and murder of three police officers. Men who had sworn to protect and serve, who were ambushed and executed in their patrol cars, in two instances shot in the head at close range. I woke up to a nation protesting their attack, their loss of life, because each life has value, and that value is equal. The media and my social media feeds were saturated with non-stop coverage and calls for justice. There was outrage and condemnation at an attack upon those that volunteer to protect us. Actually, none of that happened, except for the murder of the police officers. What I woke up to, was silence.
Where is the protest? Where are the riots? Where is the media? Where is the social media outrage?
I wish I could say that I don’t understand, but I do, and so do you.
In your homes, with your friends, where no one can hear what you say, where you can protect the image you want to portray, you shrug your shoulders, and continue your day. Your initial reaction is indifference. You say “good”, or “oh well”, perhaps even “that is what THEY deserve”, and then you check to make sure your signs are ready for the next protest. Some of you are saying, “now they know how we feel.” No one wants to say it, the politically incorrect truth, but I will. Call me a liar.
To the groups that assemble against officer involved shootings, I see you. Your silence is louder than any sign, protest or riot will ever be. To the Internet crusaders, I see you too, and your silence defines you. You have no idea what it means to serve others. You have no idea what it means to live in an environment that is uncomfortable, so that others do not have to. You have no idea what it means to put your beliefs, your values, and your life on the line, so that others can thrive. You don’t understand these things, because to you, you and your life are all that matters.
Silence is consent; tolerance is endorsement – I have heard these terms consistently for the last year.
For those of you who like to use those terms, where are you? Where is your protest? Where is your outrage? Where is your condemnation? To the media, where is the 24 hour, sensational coverage fixated on bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice? I wonder if the headlines, social media, and reaction would be different if three black men were killed this Sunday, vs. three white police officers? I think we all know the answer.
Before you take the time to make it, I already know the argument against me. Where was I when white officers were involved with shootings that killed civilians, especially men of color? I will say the same thing now that I said then, I do not rush to judgement. I have enough experience to know that initial reports are usually the most inaccurate. I have spent enough time in body armor making decisions about life and death to accrue some empathy for those that live in that world. I educate myself before I take action, I listen and learn before I rush to join a mob. When the evidence is finalized, I demand accountability. I am in exactly the same spot I have always been, and I will not be moving.
An attempt to compare an officer involved shooting, with the shooting of an officer as he sits in a police car is cowardly, at best. Perhaps some of you think that one justifies the other; perhaps some of you should try living a day in their shoes. The facts are clear, officers sitting in their patrol cars were summarily executed. The reaction, silence. Silence from the same population that demands their protection. Silence from the same population that screams at the top of their lungs when actions are taken they do not understand. It is very convenient; it allows you to go on with your day without pausing to think how much time and effort from others is required to make your perfect life possible.
Actions like this against the Police make the job of policing and serving this nation exponentially more difficult. If you think that police were on edge before, this will only make things worse. There is nothing more unsettling than being on the receiving end of an ambush. It makes you constantly question your safety, it makes you prepare for the worst. It makes your reactions swifter, with more force, in the interest of your own protection. If police are constantly ambushed, their attitude towards the citizens they are sworn to protect are going to become much more guarded. There will be no casual interactions, worst-case scenario will always be assumed. The vehicles they patrol in will become more and more like military vehicles, their detachment and distance from those they serve will only increase. If you think the fuse was short before, it likely just got cut in half.
I do not know what is coming for this country, but I am concerned about our trajectory.
For those of you who think this type of behavior is acceptable, be aware that I, and others like me walk among you every day. I don’t wear a uniform anymore, and you would never know what I used to do for a living. I hear what you say, I hear how you talk, and I watch your behavior. I won’t argue with you; I won’t try to change your mind. Your behavior and attitudes are appalling. Your sense of entitlement defines the worst of what our society has to offer. You wouldn’t raise a finger to help an officer, but are more than willing to knock people over, running to protest and riot an action by one. I see you. There is a line that is rapidly approaching, and once it is crossed, some of us are going to come off the sidelines.
The thin blue line is meant to symbolize the relationship between the police, and the communities they are sworn to protect. It represents law enforcement, and their stand between violence and victimization, between criminals and the victims of their crimes. If we lose respect for this line, if we lose respect for these people, we have nowhere to go but down. This line has become invisible, and so have the men and women who stand ready on it. We stand on their shoulders every day, the lack of understanding and appreciation for what they do exactly defines how little some deserve the protection they provide.
The men and women who put on a uniform and shield every day are not better than you, they are just better Americans. They understand that the rights we have come at a cost; they understand service; they step into the breach. They leave their families to protect yours. They spend their lives running to you, when you are in the worst moments of yours. They are your first call, and sometimes your only hope when life comes off the rails, but apparently, when they are destroyed, they are not worth your time.