Message to my “progressive” friends: Please stop bashing the police and leave that sort of nasty behavior to organizations like Antifa and Black Lives Matter; black racists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, and self-described “social justice warriors” like former UNR quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who wears socks depicting cops as pigs.
A vast majority of law enforcement officers of all known skin colors and all ethnicities carry out their duty to “protect and serve” with honor and professionalism. But the current “narrative” of the aforementioned race baiters and left-wing media is to describe all police officers as white supremacists who go around looking for black people and minorities to abuse and assault. Please! Can’t we lower the volume and have a rational discussion about these issues?
A recent example of the heated rhetoric on the complex issue of police brutality is the case involving white New York City policeman Daniel Pantaleo, who was fired last week because he placed African-American Eric Garner in a chokehold moments before Garner died in 2014. New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill, who fired Pantaleo, said the officer was correct when he initially placed Garner in a chokehold, but should have released him when he was under control and gasping “I can’t breathe.” A local grand jury and federal prosecutors declined to press charges against Pantaleo.
Although I agree with the commissioner’s decision, I don’t like the way the mainstream media played the story. They turned the story into a racially charged confrontation in which a white police officer intentionally choked a black man to death. The rhetoric escalated as Garner’s family said O’Neill did the “right thing” and called for congressional hearings, while Police Union President Patrick Lynch accused O’Neill of choosing “politics and his own self-interest over the police officers he claims to lead.” Yes, as usual, there are two sides to this story, but one side gets all the media attention because it shouts louder than the other side.
A more egregious example of the media and politicians fanning the flames of racial animosity is the 2014 case of black “gentle giant” Michael Brown, a 250-pound teenager who was shot to death by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer after attempting to rob a convenience store. Although an 86-page report by ex-President Obama’s Justice Department concluded there was no credible evidence to back the assertion that Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson “murdered” Brown, left-wing media and “progressive” politicians continue to claim that Brown was “murdered” even though the DoJ report said Wilson fired in self-defense.
Earlier this month Democratic presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, courting black voters, claimed that Brown was murdered. “Michael Brown’s murder forever changed Ferguson and America,” said former California Attorney General Harris, an experienced prosecutor who should know better. Not to be outdone by a rival presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) weighed in a half hour later with a similar false claim. Which raises an important question: Because 2020 is an election year, do we have to turn everything into a black vs. white confrontation where we must choose between white supremacists or black racists who hate white people? I hope not.
Somewhat surprisingly, the “progressive” Washington Post called out Harris and Warren for lying about Brown’s death. “Harris and Warren have ignored the findings of the Justice Department by accusing Wilson of murder,” Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote, causing the rival Washington Examiner to opine that Kessler was “appropriately appalled by the senators’ embrace of a long-debunked falsehood.” Amen!
CORRECTION: In last Saturday’s column I misspelled Elinor Bugli’s first name. And it’s David Bugli, not “Dave.” My apologies.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.