Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Demonizing the cops: A stale, vicious protest tactic

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on Nov. 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm with 6 Comments »
November 18, 2011 5:15 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Before they go to work, police officers wake up, take showers, put on uniforms and say goodbye to spouses and children who hope they will come home alive at the end of their shifts.

They handle brawls, robberies, aggressive drunks, fugitives, sociopaths and volatile domestic calls that sometimes turn lethal. They routinely cross paths with lowlifes carrying guns.

Their job description consists of putting their bodies between dangerous criminals and the innocent public. They are the good guys, not the bad guys.

So it gets old watching Occupy Wall Street factions resort to the old, wearisome and fundamentally vicious tactic of promoting their causes by maneuvering cops into staged confrontations designed to make them look like bullies.

As some Occupy camps in U.S. cities have degenerated into spectacles of park destruction, crime, drug overdoses and public defecation, previously sympathetic mayors have been forced to reclaim the hijacked public spaces.

Many demonstrators insist on being driven out physically – by the police, of course – in front of television cameras. It’s a grab for the moral capital of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which won the nation’s admiration after courageous demonstrators were publicly assaulted by fire hoses, snarling dogs and the Bull Connors of the old South.

As political scientist Thad Kousser told McClatchy Newspapers, “You want to be forced out by the cops – that way you never retreated, you were pushed out by the man.”

It’s theater. The protesters assign themselves the role of heroic champions of social justice braving tear gas canisters, batons and the system’s brutality. The police – “the man” – get the role of faceless imperial storm troopers who embody the evil empire.

The political statement gets made at the expense of human beings – working class men and women, union members no less – who spend much of their time putting themselves in harm’s way on behalf of the rest of us.

Sometimes harm’s way includes the theater staged by the demonstrators, who don’t always do a great job of policing their own. In this movie, officers have been getting fists, knees, stones and firebombs thrown at them.

The contrived conflict is reminiscent of “suicide by cop.” In that script, a depressed man or woman waves a gun, shouts threats and eventually forces the responding officers to shoot him or her. The officers go home having killed a human being when they would really preferred to have taken their children to the zoo or a ball game.

Call us hypersensitive, but we saw five police officers in Pierce County shot to death in the line of duty two years ago. That speaks for itself. The law enforcement profession carries more moral capital than those who force cops into scuffles – or worse – to score political points that could have been made without demonizing the police.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. madmike272 says:

    Totally agree! What started out as a group of concerned, law abiding citizens wanting more regulation on corporations and banking, has been hijacked by radical elements like Code Pink, unions and anarchists.

  2. Does the layoff planned by the City of Tacoma that hits close to 100 police and firefighters but less than 5 city management positions and no city council seats give you a clue about what Occupy Wall STreet is about?
    Where is all that lip service about how we value police when it comes to saving their jobs?
    The Conservatives’ trickle down economic theories work about as well as layoffs trickling up.
    Those kids are fighting for working class police and firefighter family wage jobs too.

  3. rivitman says:

    Nobody is “demonizing” the cops.

    But the actions of some police are certainly questionable, if not criminal.

    But just exactly who is trying to demonize who here? Looks like TNT already got the memo:

    Exclusive: Lobbying Firm’s Memo Spells Out Plan to Undermine Occupy Wall Street:

  4. Earth_watch says:

    This piece is nearly too despicable to even comment on. What an embarrassment to “reporting”, these anonymous, slanted “opinion pieces”. Did McClatchy himself write it, or dictated that his editorial boards do so? I’m ashamed my local newspaper would print this; anyone who actually graduated with a journalism degree (or even took Journalism 101) should be mortified to admit they work for a newspaper which would print this.

    Seriously: protesters sitting on the ground, linking arms, bringing attention to a social injustice situation, are neither a danger to themselves nor others, nor a threat to public safety. If you really believe not responding to police orders deserves a physical attack, then you live in the wrong country. If such actions (sitting on the sidewalk and failing to disperse when ordered) are truly breaking a law, then, by all means arrest the people… but I know of no law which calls for immediate punishment via use of physical attack.

    The protesters are not “demonizing” the police. The police are doing that, themselves… and “editorials” such as this only reinforce why the 99% need to rally on.

    Thank you, Tacoma Police Department, for not following the behavior of New York, Oakland, Denver and Seattle. You are part of the 99% and your true supporters are those at Occupy Tacoma… not those who wish to use you to benefit their bottom line. When the state comes to “clean” the park this week, please, please remember these words.

    For shame, TNT.


  5. Earth_watch says:

    To compare demonstrations to a “contrived conflict” reminiscent of “suicide by cop” is so out-of-touch it’s reprehensible. If a reader had posted such a thing in the comments section it would have been flagged by other readers and deleted by the staff, so it’s stunning that a “professional” newspaper would actually create, approve, publish and distribute the “opinion” piece above.

    To say that the OWS demonstrators are “promoting their causes by maneuvering cops into staged confrontations designed to make them look like bullies” only suggests that the author must think cops are really dumb… as if all their training escapes them and they’re completely at the mercy of peaceful protesters. For this anonymous writer to suggest unnecessary police brutality is okay, is on the same level of someone else trying to excuse away those shootings. One doesn’t justify the other; neither is acceptable.

    So, no, I don’t think the author is “hypersensitive” but I do think you are using a “news” medium to promote a ridiculous and dangerous idea, to suggest that simply being a cop should allow for no self-consciousness nor self-control since, afterall, cops have been killed in the past (in a completely unrelated situation) as if that excuses all future inappropriate police behavior.. Really, TNT, that’s how you want to defend our police department? I think TPD would prefer you not categorize them so…


  6. Westend253 says:

    To put it simply, thank-you for seeing the big picture.

    Our community has suffered more impacts with the death of officers than any other in the region.

    Everyone has the right to their opinion. It is the delivery of the message that determines the level of respect or recognition that they receive.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0