Politicising the riots and blanket condemnation of police has its consequences
The city leaders in Buffalo New York are grappling with mounting problems as protests are evolving into violence, and now just as the authorities are attempting to handle a dangerous scenario, they have just watched the 57 member police riot squad quit their positions collectively. This was in response to two of their officers being punished for injuring an older man during conflicts on the streets of the city.
Following the suspension of two riot police officers over an incident where an older citizen was injured the entire Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned from their positions. This underscores the conflict we are seeing and hearing playing out across the country.
As the nonsensical and needlessly violent protests continue to unravel in cities across the country a defined agenda is becoming more clear. The anarchical activities are giving way to calls for systemic alterations. Among those is the ridiculous notion that cities should begin defunding police forces, and the media is actually giving these daft pronouncements airtime. Problems are already beginning to show and in Buffalo, it has already come to the foreground.
In order for all of this messaging to take root there needs to be a clear narrative established, and we are seeing it being sold. Protestors are blameless, there is a built-in racial bias in our police systems, and the cops are always guilty of any perceived conflict on the streets. There is no room for nuances; everything needs to be interpreted in a straightforward fashion. This is exactly what is playing out in Buffalo.
Thursday night video emerged of riot police clearing an area in the downtown location and in the process the police pushed an older gentleman who stumbled backward and fell, striking his head on the ground. It was a jarring image, and it fueled the mounting outrage at the police across the country.
— WBFO (@WBFO) June 5, 2020
The 75-year-old man required hospitalization with severe injuries. As disturbing as this episode can be interpreted there are a number of factors that need to be acknowledged. While many are yelling about how this is an example of an out of control police force, allow me to inject details that diffuse some of that outrage.
To begin, Buffalo, and the nearby city of Rochester, have been dealing with some stark examples of violence. While citizens have been targeted at times so have the police. On Monday a woman drove her car into a lineup of police officers, injuring a number of them. So the police have taken a firmer line when it comes to crowd control in Buffalo. On Thursday police were called out to enforce a curfew and were clearing out people from in front of the City Town Hall. It was during this process that the man incurred his injuries.
If you watch the video there are aspects that need to be addressed, those which show the man has to share a level of responsibility in this confrontation. To start, we are not seeing a physically infirm 75-year old who was peacefully resisting when he was violently attacked. The man appears relatively fit for his age. He also was not acting in a peaceful fashion. The reason for the confrontation was due to the man not following the curfew order. He was not clearing the area and he in fact placed himself in the middle of the gathering of police. He then escalates things further by marching up directly in the face of one of the officers, in a directly confrontational manner.
This entire conflict was instigated by his actions. He was intentionally being provocative and invited the confrontation. Debate can be had over the actions of the police in that exchange, but to say the man was blameless and not at fault is far from accurate. As a result of this default assigning of GUILT on the police it has led to the police reacting in response. The union representing the police officers in the city has said following the two suspended officers the union will not provide legal service to any other police who may come under punishment as a result of the riots. The officers on the riot squad have stepped down from the tactical unit.
This leaves the city in the lurch now as the weekend unfolds. One local politician, reflecting the animus directed at police, expressed his disgust with the mass resignation. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Friday afternoon that “if they’ve resigned, I’m exceptionally disappointed by it because it indicates to me that they did not see anything wrong with the actions that occurred that night.” He went on to state how he hoped the actions of the police do not disrupt the peace any further.
Well, if that peace is disrupted, city officials will be hamstrung with how to respond. It is this automatic leap to blame law enforcement exclusively that is likely to cause more contempt, both within the ranks of LEOs and in the relationship with the public. Buffalo could serve as a petri dish to watch how this antagonism towards law enforcement could play out.