Monday, June 29, 2020

Inputs and Outcomes

It’s hard to imagine a worse outcome for the Aurora (CO) Police Department than Saturday’s mauling of violin-playing protesters.

Short of killing a few of the audience, one supposes.

You’d think Aurora PD might’ve learned over the past few weeks that well-documented, unwarranted, overreactive police violence is ultimately self-defeating. It tends to mobilize larger and more frequent protests, increasing the likelihood of future violence.

You’d think that before they deployed in combat mode on Saturday that leadership might’ve reminded them, “These folks are protesting the death of a Black kid who played the violin for shelter cats. Don’t give anyone reason to believe we’re thugs looking for a fight. It’ll make us all look bad.”

Violinist Jeff Hughes
Photo by Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Apparently, no one said anything like that.

It’s almost as if the police are unaware their continued existence as a community resource is under scrutiny and in question. That reasonable people are increasingly uncomfortable paying for unaccountable law enforcement. That there’s serious talk about cutting funding and defining down the mission of police nationwide—especially in communities where “peace officer” is too often a contradiction.

What happened in Aurora rains dishonor on the mission of policing. It disdains, rather than serves, the community.

Surely, things could've ended differently. If police (not in riot gear) and local officials had chosen to peacefully interact with protesters, spoken in good faith with them, and listened compassionately to the responses, the day could have ended with hope.

Instead, Aurora PD proved the protesters' premise—that violent escalation (especially against BIPOC people) is routinely the first and favored option.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ―Fred Rogers

Our children are watching. And they’re learning that those helpers are not the police.