I try to respect you. And generally, I do.
I’ve needed you, been glad to see you, still have a few friends and family among your ranks here and there. Even when I don’t agree with the laws you represent, I realize that enforcing those laws, day after day, is one of the shittiest jobs on earth.
I get that.
It’s hard to be a cop. To see the worst of humanity day by day. To have so much fear and hate and misery directed your way that it seems as though your fellow cops are the only ones who might understand.
I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be a cop.
But I do know this.
Wading into crowds while employing mace and billy-clubs – this does not help you.
Taking massive corporate “donations,” and then pepper-spraying people who protest those corporations - this does not serve you.
Herding people onto bridges, and then rounding them up for blocking said bridges – this does not honor you.
Breaking the skulls of veterans, then tossing flash-bombs at the folks who try to help them get them to safety. Arresting customers who want to quit giving business to their banks. Running over people with motorbikes, tear-gassing kids, tossing the property of private citizens into waiting garbage trucks.
These are not acts worthy of police officers.
They do not serve or protect the citizens. They do not keep the peace. In fact, they seem designed to provoke violence.
These acts, and so many more captured on camera and in words these past few weeks, are the actions of corporate minions.
The actions of mercenaries. Oppressors. Thugs.
They are unworthy of the badge.
They are unworthy of respect.
Dear Officer, they are unworthy of YOU.
They put you on the wrong side of history.
And they make your job harder, not easier.
Not just now, but for the foreseeable future, they burden you.
You see – and Officer, I hope you DO see this – such acts make people hate you. Fear you. Despise you.
Even people like me, who want to trust you.
In one more of the many sad ironies of 9/11, in the shadow of its tenth anniversary, the New York cops who became heroes on that day have became villains out there now. “Bribe one cop,” people say these days, “and it’s a crime. Bribe the department, and it’s a donation.”
Officer, are you a line on someone’s balance-sheet? Or are you a human being trying to do the toughest job on earth?
And if the latter, why make it harder for yourself?
That’s what this DOES, you know. It makes life harder for every cop on earth.
Like the dog-wielding cops of Selma and the skull-cracking cops of Chicago, police officers who do the things we have seen this month wind up on the wrong side of history, relics who defended something old and ugly that needed to be swept away.
Is that the man or woman you want to see in the mirror?
Is this the job you want to do?
Is this the image you want to suffer for, even when it’s not your hand holding clubs or pepper spray?
If not, then please KNOCK IT OFF.
Don't be that person. Don't do those things. Prove those who hate you wrong, not right.
STOP “just following orders.”
Be the hero, not the thug.
Don’t assume that you win when you do such things. You DON’T. YOU LOSE.
And in losing, you destroy everything you strive to uphold.
Any history book can tell you that.
So Officer, you have a choice:
Do you want to be today’s hero, or tomorrow’s pig?
Your call, Officer.
But if you choose the latter option, don’t expect my continuing respect.
Or, perhaps when you look in the mirror, your own forgiveness for the things you chose to do.