Last Saturday, activists held an "Anti-police brutality march" in Seattle streets. As their Facebook page put it, "Unfortunately, here we are again, another year, another year of police brutality, and no accountability." Which is at least half true. The US Department of Justice pushed the Seattle Police Department into a consent decree in 2012 that requires officers to stop a "pattern or practice" of using excessive force against citizens and stop treating racial minorities poorly. I'm not sure about the stats on excessive force in the last year, but some have no-doubt persisted. And since Ed Murray became mayor this January, the police accountability system under his hand-picked interim chief was revealed as a Keystone Cops farce of officers being punished, having punishments reversed, pointing fingers at others, and then—seriously—losing the paperwork. We've had legit problems with brutality. And we have evidence that there is zero real accountability.
In other words: Seattle has cause to protest.
Several people had asked me last week to march with them. I've been a loud advocate for police reform and I'd complained about a Seattle cop's misconduct last year (the SPD flip-flopped on the case, pointed fingers, etc.). But I didn't plan to attend. I've been to anti-cop marches before—such as one that idolized an alleged cop murderer—and that shit is a liability to its own cause. Well, I'm glad I didn't go, because I ran into the marchers by chance on Saturday evening:
As they hoofed up Broadway, the protesters yelled that they wanted to get rid of all cops. They chanted, "All cops are bastards!" They declared all cops "fascists!" They screamed, "Fuck you, pigs!" Of course, most Seattle cops have never had a misconduct complaint and some cops are excellent peacekeepers. And while some cops are certifiably bastards, not all of them are bastards. This coming from someone who thinks SPD is pretty fucked.
Guess who was also there—guess who politely, calmly escorted the marchers through the rainy streets?
Seattle police officers. They diverted traffic to keep everyone safe. They stayed friendly, cool as cucumbers, while being barraged with insults.
Way to take the high road, SPD. And way to marginalize legitimate police reform with asinine accusations, stupid demands (eliminate all cops?), and tactics that drive away folks who would otherwise agree with you, dipshits. You achieved the opposite of your goal: You made the cops look outstanding.