Throughout my time in college, I’ve been subjected to a lot of anti-police opinions shared by peers and professors. I can typically hold it together, but one encounter with this Black Lives Matter spokesperson in my class, who proudly and loudly advertises her desire to abolish law enforcement, made me snap. This girl—we’ll call her Valencia—also believes she can speak on behalf of both black people and police officers, populations from which she could not be further from. We were discussing (in a course on Asian-American history, no less) recent instances of “police brutality” when she said: The police are always the ones escalating the situation. Why is it the civilian’s job to de-escalate the situation?
I bit my tongue as everyone else nodded in approval of this allegation, but if I knew I would not be met with hostility and hatred for doing so, I would have spun around and said: Tell me, Valencia. Tell me how an officer just trying to eat a sandwich behind a Walmart who got shot was ‘escalating the situation.’ Tell me how an officer responding to a routine MVA who got shot was ‘escalating the situation.’ Tell me how an officer sitting in his cruiser doing absolutely nothing who got shot point blank was ‘escalating the situation.’
Tell me how when a man came running out of the house as my boyfriend was walking back to his cruiser and unsolicitedly tried to assault him, after which my boyfriend did not arrest him because he recognized that the man needed help… tell me how my boyfriend was escalating the situation. Tell me how the many officers who save and change the lives of suicidal people, when the call isn’t even a matter of law enforcement, are escalating the situation. When people are screaming death threats, swearing, telling officers to kill themselves, tell me how those officers—so hardened and accustomed to this abuse that they barely flinch anymore—were the ones escalating the situation. Tell me how all of the men and women who joined the profession to do good, who were simply fulfilling their duties, who were going about their lives and were murdered just because of their badge, were ‘escalating the situation.’
Go ahead, Valencia, tell me all about that thing you retweeted from your third cousin’s ex-boyfriend’s best friend’s second cousin twice removed’s brother who copied and pasted it from a stranger’s Facebook status (so it must be true). Tell me that an officer should be incarcerated and is inherently racist, because somehow he wasn’t able to read minds or magically develop night vision to identify a cell phone in pitch black from 30 feet away—even though he had probable cause to believe that someone on drugs and on probation, who had just committed a string of crimes and run from the police before assuming a shooting stance, was about to kill him.
Today’s world is full of misconceptions about the job, and very few care about facts that don’t support their own views. Somehow, people still insist that there is anti-black bias in the media, yet every article published seems only to further indoctrinate the “police are racist pigs” narrative. This is a world where “KILL COPS” is an acceptable message to put on a piece of art promoting peace, where an esteemed professor can blatantly encourage cold-blooded killing of all LEOs. People like Valencia will say whatever they want to, regardless of facts or the feelings of anyone who may not agree. We are supposed to cater to anti-police people’s feelings, yet ours remain irrelevant. They propagate a mob mentality and dehumanize an entire profession.
Those of us who support law enforcement are the silenced ones. I would be scared to wear a Thin Blue Line shirt on my campus; my boyfriend is uncomfortable leaving my dorm and walking 500 feet to his car in police pants and a plain winter jacket; my friend and her boyfriend can barely leave the house because of the anti-law enforcement threats brought upon both of them in their town—which brings me to another question: Who are the real aggressors here? If I have to leave the classroom, seeing red and shaking because I cannot speak up in support of law enforcement without having hell to pay, is it really me who is creating a hostile environment?
To all the Valencias in my life, I’d also like to bring your attention to a fairly obvious fact that seems to escape you. When you say that cops should be killed, you are talking about someone’s child, partner, spouse, sibling, loved one, best friend, and hero. When you say that cops should be killed, you are talking about the love of my life, saying that he and the hundreds of thousands of sworn officers in the country should be murdered for something that one officer in a different department did two years ago which you saw a 3-second video clip of and made your own uninformed judgment about the injustice of his sentencing or lack thereof. I’m not saying you aren’t entitled to your own emotional reaction, but concluding that therefore all police are horrible people who should die is a radical leap with devastating consequences.
Do you know what it’s like to live in fear every time your boyfriend’s shift starts? To not be allowed to be openly proud of how truly amazing he is at his job? Do you have any idea what it’s like when the person you love is working in a profession where some people legitimately want to kill him and would, given the opportunity, when he has done nothing wrong? To hear others generalize and tear down a loved one and their co-workers, making unfounded and uneducated statements, accusing them all of egregious acts of racism and calling them out for so-called “brutality” when they were just doing their job?
I’m not saying that race never plays a role in law enforcement, and I feel strongly that there are many major societal issues related to race in this country. Neither am I saying that racist police officers don’t exist; of course they do—there are bigoted people and corrupt institutions in every profession. The point is, when you go from displeasure at one officer’s actions or a justified verdict you don’t understand, to threatening the welfare of all police officers, that jump is frankly messed up (I’d use stronger language, but let’s leave it at that). There is a visceral anger and pain I experience every time someone makes an anti-police statement that anti-police people will never understand. Nobody will, unless and until they love a LEO in today’s world.
If I could, I would stand before Valencia and every one of her BLM cohorts and say: Your hostility is only dividing us further. Maybe, if you didn’t say that police should be killed, we would be able to find a middle ground. Maybe I would feel comfortable expressing my views, and maybe police supporters would actually be more inclined to listen to yours as well. Maybe, if you weren’t burning thin blue line flags and denouncing an entire profession, we could come to a much better solution or consensus. Maybe we could actually work together. It is yourattitude that’s fueling the fire. The second you start promoting violence and murder towards a group of people, anyone who supports that group of people is going to close off their minds to you completely. You had your chance to go about this a much different way, and I have yet to see any indication that you’re ever going to change your approach.
My school is hyperfocused on creating an inclusive environment by avoiding conservative views, but in their quest to make minorities feel supported, they make people like me who have slightly dissenting opinions on law enforcement feel ostracized and attacked. I am learning to keep my head down and leave the room if it gets to be too much, so that others don’t jump down my throat and disparage me for defending my boyfriend’s profession. It’s hard, and I wish I had a solution.
For now, know that you are not alone. If you too have to deal with the same thing day in and day out, I feel your pain and hope that you feel mine. Hold your LEOs a little bit tighter and kiss them a little bit longer, and trust that in spite of the Valencias of the world, in spite of the aspiring and successful cop killers, in spite of overwhelming negativity aimed at your loved one, they will always come back to you real soon.