The perpetually miserable Joan Walsh strikes again.
I grew up in New York in the 1960s and 70s saying a prayer whenever I heard a siren – a prayer for whomever the siren wailed, and a prayer for the men behind the siren, the policemen and firemen risking their lives every day, my uncles (and later cousins) among them. That’s what my mother taught me. I still find myself doing it sometimes.
As I got older, I learned the police weren’t seen as protectors, especially in black communities. They were sometimes viewed as predators, in New York, and across the country. My first national news story, as an adult, profiled the 1981 Milwaukee protest movement that emerged when a young black man, Ernie Lacy, died in police custody after a cop pinned him to the ground with a knee to the neck. It was a case similar to Eric Garner’s – in front of witnesses, but before the days of cell phone cameras. (Five officers were eventually convicted not of killing Lacy but of failing to provide first aid.) So I have struggled to reconcile those contradictory views of police – heroes or brutes – my entire adult life. […]
Most protests against police abuse are peaceful. Sure, there are a few saboteurs smashing windows and punching cops, but you’ll also see a whole lot of protesters trying to stop them – and it seems most of the violent folks are white.