Readers respond: Should police participate in protests?

From voicing support to raising officer safety concerns, here’s a roundup of responses


A number of LEOs – including chiefs – have made headlines during the George Floyd protests by joining activists in solidarity through acts like kneeling, marching, or lowering riot shields.

We asked our readers on Facebook for their take on these actions. From voicing support to raising officer safety concerns, here’s a roundup of their responses. For more on this topic, check out Chief Joel Shults and Jim Dudley’s debate on the issue here.

KEEPING THE PEACE

Members of the Austin Police Department kneel in front of demonstrators who gathered in Austin, Texas, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of the Austin Police Department kneel in front of demonstrators who gathered in Austin, Texas, Saturday, June 6, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“I think it's awesome. They're not being submissive as some have said. They're simply showing that they want this to be peaceful, they're here to protect the community. By kneeling WITH – not kneeling to – the protesters, they're demonstrating that they are just as sickened by what happened to Mr. Floyd and that they back your right to a PEACEFUL protest.” – E.D. Masters

DE-ESCALATION

“Our primary goal is to achieve voluntary compliance to laws/ordinances. What they are doing is the epitome of de-escalation.” – Dandy Mo-Reece

HUMANIZING THE BADGE

“I’ve been an LEO for 26 years. My take is we must show the community we serve that we empathize with what they feel. I know 99% of us put on the badge and represent it with honor and integrity, however that minuscule percent that tarnish the badge wreak havoc on all of us. All I do know is I can’t wait to retire; I’m over being a target.” – Arnold Abel

“I believe it is the right thing to do to close the tension gap between law enforcement and protesters bringing solidarity between the two; it is always the good and decent thing to do. Stand and walk with the protesters, stand against the looters and rioters. Show the world that the police agree with the concerns of the people protesting but will not permit the lawlessness of those that cause disruption by looting and rioting.” – George Helms

IMPARTIALITY CONCERNS  

“When you have the uniform on, you represent ALL of us; I do not think any officer should kneel or march in uniform – we are supposed to be impartial and professional. Kneeling not only is a huge officer safety risk, but sends confusing messages of culpability/shame/guilt/remorse/etc. I will empathize, listen, be compassionate, hug and safeguard, but I will not kneel, bow, or march. That crosses a line we should not cross. Re-read the law enforcement code of ethics you swore to when your badge was pinned – it’s pretty clear on this matter.” – Jason Jones

“Unfortunately, they aren’t grasping the constitutional problem this creates. The police are supposed to be objective and dispassionate about upholding the Constitution, now they’re picking and choosing which causes to support. Wow!” – Sean Thomas

“It’s pandering and the police have now sided with one group over another when the oath they took was to remain impartial. It’s ridiculous; get off your knees and stand tall.” – Woody Richardson

THE OPTICS OF KNEELING

“I think the kneeling is a worthless act of capitulation. The facts do not support the media narrative of systemic racism and abuse of minorities at the hands of police. The vast majority of all police/civilian interactions end quite peacefully. There are bad actors on both sides – LE and civilian alike – that hurt relations. However, the real issue is the lack of empathy and respect for human life.” – Christian Wright

“I'm not kneeling for anybody, and I would never expect a colleague to do the same. If you want to engage with protesters, then have a discussion with them.” – Donald Edward

“You can agree with the issue they may be protesting about, but to kneel is surrendering. Not all who protest actually want ‘justice.’ They want something more, and it is dangerous.” – Valkyrie Deb

OFFICER SAFETY ISSUES

“I’m long since retired but this seems risky to me. My thought is if you have some officers that want to kneel, make sure you have a significant number of officers watching their six. A couple of days ago I may have been more receptive to the idea but as the burning and looting has gone on, the message of unity and change has been lost in the fog of violence.” – George Earl

NEXT: Videos, photos: Cops, activists connect during #GeorgeFloyd protests

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