Will you be shocked that the police response to protests against police violence against Black communities was to commit more violence against those protesting? I know I’m shocked!
For many long weeks last summer, protesters in American cities faced off against their own police forces in what proved to be, for major law enforcement agencies across the country, a startling display of violence and disarray.
In Philadelphia, police sprayed tear gas on a crowd of mainly peaceful protesters trapped on an interstate who had nowhere to go and no way to breathe. In Chicago, officers were given arrest kits so old that the plastic handcuffs were decayed or broken. Los Angeles officers were issued highly technical foam-projectile launchers for crowd control, but many of them had only two hours of training; one of the projectiles bloodied the eye of a homeless man in a wheelchair. Nationally, at least eight people were blinded after being hit with police projectiles.
Now, months after the demonstrations that followed the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police in May, the full scope of the country’s policing response is becoming clearer. More than a dozen after-action evaluations have been completed, looking at how police departments responded to the demonstrations — some of them chaotic and violent, most peaceful — that broke out in hundreds of cities between late May and the end of August.
In city after city, the reports are a damning indictment of police forces that were poorly trained, heavily militarized and stunningly unprepared for the possibility that large numbers of people would surge into the streets, moved by the graphic images of Mr. Floyd’s death under a police officer’s knee.
I mean, sure, the cops were poorly trained, heavily militarized, and stunningly unprepared. They were also having fun, doing what they always wanted to do to anyone who questioned their absolutely authority.
Seriously, the only people who this should surprise are those who have never had negative interactions with cops, by which I mean people who have never had interactions at all with cops.