Nightmare on Main Street


I’m the proud son of a cop. I saw him come home from his shift with his jacket in shreds because an angry woman came at him with a kitchen knife when he tried to arrest her boyfriend for assaulting her. He was tough on street crime, but he was just as hard on bad cops — complained about cops who took the law into their own hands, cops who turned away from an arrest because their shift had almost ended, or even just cops who grew fat and lazy.

I think about what he would have said, if he were alive, about the execution-style killing of cops and African-American civilians. I wish he were still here with us, but, in a way, I’m glad he didn’t have to see what’s happening in our streets today. I’m glad he didn’t have to see how divided we have become — trying to figure out, on the basis of our politics, whose lives matter more.

Too many black people are being killed by bad cops. Too many cops are being shot down by psychos who are mistaken for legitimate protesters. This is not an issue on which we are forced to choose sides. All the killings are part of the violent fabric of today’s streets in big city America. The innocent victims are both cops and the victims of bad cops. Charles Manson once infamously tried to start a race war in America. That’s what the senseless 1969 slayings of Sharon Tate and the others were about. Manson hoped blacks would be blamed for the murders. He thought a race war was inevitable and that he’d jump-start that conflict. Manson must be chuckling in his prison cell right now. He’s probably writing a new tune about the insanity that has gripped us. If allowed, he is likely strumming it on his guitar. The bad cops and the cop killers are doing Charlie’s bidding. They might as well be bona fide members of the Manson Family. I can just hear Charlie screaming, “Bring it on, baby.”

Those folks who have taken sides, as if one can take sides with senseless killing, have come up with all kinds of justifications for the murder on our streets. The snipers are justified, some say, because African-Americans are being killed by cops. The other side claims that the police shootings of unarmed blacks are justified because the cops feel threatened. No. Not today. Not ever. Whether those justifications are used for political purpose or come from some deep emotion, they are dead wrong. Wrong as in justifying murder for which there is no justification.

Some blame the President for the cop killings, but then is there anything horrific that has happened in the last eight years where they have not placed the blame on his shoulders? They also blame Black Lives Matter. But as flawed as the organization is (and we’ll get to that), it arose out of a spate of unprovoked killing of African-Americans in a significantly larger proportion than whites, and they are not the ones wielding the weapons against our police.

I have my differences with Black Lives Matter, but the mere name of that organization is not “racist,” as charged by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Yes, I would prefer the group had been named Black Lives Matter, Too, but pointing out the disparity in the way the police deal with African-Americans and whites is not racist, but fact.

Regarding my differences with Black Lives Matter — the group lacks the steady hand of a strong leader. It has tolerated the unforgivable violent rhetoric against the police from some of its members, but it has also largely been peaceful in its protests, a First Amendment right that is too easily forgotten by those who are seemingly fixated only on the Second Amendment.

There is also overheated rhetoric on both sides. Soon after the Dallas tragedy, the Drudge Report carried the shameful headline Black Lives Kill. Former Texas Congressman Joe Walsh (not the member of the singing group The Eagles) tweeted that Obama had better watch out. Social commentator and comedian Bill Maher complained that the Dallas police had used a robot with a bomb to kill the sniper. His reasoning was that police are paid to do a dangerous job (he felt obligated to add, but being a cop is not one of the 10 most dangerous occupations) and should be placed in harm’s way over using a robot. Easy for a comedian, who gets paid much more than what we pay cops, to say.

There are ways to improve the safety of both our citizens and our police, but not by taking sides. Support Your Local Police should not mean whether they are right or wrong. Black Lives Matter should not mean that blue lives or white lives or whatever color lives matter less. We can, and should, police ourselves. Any time we see and hear someone talking trash, call that person out. Protesters call out irresponsible protesters instead of remaining silent. The majority of good cops should call out the bad cops instead of observing the blue code of silence.

Dad was one of the good cops. I never saw him cry until Mom became seriously ill. And then again when he received his death sentence from the doctors. If there’s an afterlife, he is weeping now for all of us.

Protesters and cops. ■