Protests have erupted in the streets of California over the recent police shooting of an unarmed suspect, Stephon Clark. Demonstrations orchestrated by BLM activists and protestors have blocked businesses, roads and events to demonstrate their outrage at what they are calling another example of "police brutality" and "institutional racism". The demonstrators seek to right this injustice through civil (and often not so civil) disobedience.
Riots in Ferguson, Baltimore, LA, and many other places have been the previous result of this "civil" disobedience. Communities have been destroyed, businesses burned and looted, cities and lives placed into turmoil again and again in recent years as groups like BLM have organized allegedly peaceful demonstrations against what they claim to be unjustified police shootings.
Sadly, in every single case that this group chooses to protest, there is one common thread that is overlooked by BLM protestors: each and every case involved non-compliance with police.
Whether it be Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, LaQuan McDonald or the latest, Stephon Clark, one constant remains. Each of these individuals rejected police instructions and resisted arrest, causing the officer in the case to use force to defend himself, other officers and the general public.
Now, the protestors might contend that excessive force was used, and the courts are left to make that determination. However, the fact remains that each and every one of the men above would be alive today IF they had complied with the police.
A culture of disrespect towards authority have placed our men and women in law enforcement in a precarious place. Increasingly, citizens who encounter police are disrespecting officers and refusing to follow simple police instructions. We see it in cases as innocuous as traffic stops and as grave of cases as active shootings. Law enforcement are not respected, and non-compliance is becoming an epidemic that is increasing police/citizen tensions and is also increasing crime in our neighborhoods. Where once police walked the beat in their local neighborhoods, keeping the peace and building relationships with the community, now cameras and shot detectors police dangerous areas too risky for law enforcement. Officers have been forced to treat even a simple traffic stop as a potential threat to their lives, and have had to change police protocol to address the new (unfortunate) normal. Because officers can no longer trust the public to respect authority and comply, they now find it a requirement to treat every interaction with the public as a potential threat.
This tension is leading directly to these police shootings, and has also led to several police officers being shot and killed. The anger and disregard for law enforcement has spilled over into a war on police. With each incident created by this increased tension, the tension and division grows, ensuring even less public trust, more resistance against police, and ultimately more deaths of both suspects and officers. The cycle of violence has begun and once started, is very difficult to stop.
Unfortunately, the one thing that COULD stop the cycle of violence appears unlikely to happen in today's permissive culture. Young people are taught by their "elders" that it is ok to disrespect authority. The era of punishment and consequences for disrespect has been replaced with an era of violence against teachers, children beating up their parents, and a system that glorifies youth disobedience, as we saw in the recent "walkouts" for gun control across the country. We as adults are NOT teaching our kids to respect authority, and in doing so we are undermining the very fiber of our society and it's "social contract".
A social contract is an implicit agreement by members of society to cooperate for social benefit. Our social contract with law enforcement is to allow our police the right to enforce our laws, so that we may live without needing to defend our own property and family like in a Wild West movie. We agree to comply with officer's authority, and they agree to "protect and serve" the public from those who would do us harm.
When compliance is no longer a given, our officers are left unable to accomplish their mission to protect the public safety. While our men and women in blue often put their lives at risk in the line of duty, police work is not meant to be a death sentence. Officers have not only a right, but also a legal obligation to defend themselves from harm. When faced with a non-compliant suspect, officers must choose the most effective course of action to defend both themselves and the public. Often this has led to the use of force that would not have been needed at all if the citizens being stopped by police had merely complied with police instructions.
That is not to say that police brutality and corruption does not exist. It does. However, groups like BLM cherry pick cases of police shootings they choose to protest, often ignoring cases where officers were clearly in the wrong, shooting COMPLIANT citizens. Justine Damand and Daniel Shaver are two such cases, cases that garnered no attention from so called "police brutality activists" because they did not fit the racial narrative these groups stick to. They also do not fit the pattern of defending those who resist arrest. It seems that groups like BLM seek to decriminalize resisting arrest in their mission to reduce police violence. The tragedy is that by normalizing the habit of resisting arrest, these groups are exposing our youth to further risk of becoming the next shooting to be protested.
Additionally, real cases of police brutality are drowned out in the outrage over non-compliant victims. Officers who are truly abusing their authority are left on the job, while good officers see their lives destroyed, based on the whim of public opinion, not the rule of law. Cities and municipalities are threatened by the possibility of rioting and destruction, and decisions of justice are often impacted not by the laws but by the destructive potential of angry "protestors". Police unions which often protect and make it harder to fire bad officers are ignored by protestors, while innocent businesses are targeted. By trying to hold law enforcement "accountable" through protests and violence, these protestors are actually overlooking and facilitating the protection of bad cops. They are also creating the exact culture of disrespect that has led to so much unnecessary destruction and loss of life so far. Our communities are not MORE safe because BLM chooses to protest, they are in fact less safe. Our young people are less safe, especially those who might find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Because they have been falsely programmed to resist arrest, there will be more police caused deaths in the future as officers are forced to choose between personal and public safety, and the safety of a defiant suspect. We should not be forcing our officers to make that choice.
There is a simple solution to restoring civility to our streets and to our police/civilian relationship. We must teach our young people to respect authority again. We must teach them to #ComplyDontDie. Only by restoring the social contract with our law enforcement can we expect to see any change in the current sad state of affairs. Only by returning to rationality and civility can we hope to address the problem officers who are truly a detriment to the force. Only by instilling in our youth a return to respectfulness can we protect them from harm, from officers or other citizens, as only by restoring our community connection with law enforcement can we hope to protect our children from criminals who would harm them.
We debate whether Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or even if All Lives Matter. But most importantly, each of us has a duty to ensure that Our Kid's Lives Matter, and we must teach them the skills, knowledge and civil RESPECT needed to protect their lives. Please, teach your child to respect authority, to respect their teachers and principals. Teach them to respect law enforcement. Teach them to comply, don't die.