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I’m a liberal, and I support the police



If you read my blog regularly you probably think of me as pretty liberal. And I am, especially compared to the Trumpian right wing in red state America. Whenever I post something on Breitbart, I get the most dreadful, insulting comments accusing me of being a far-left libtard snowflake proto-communist elitist faggot. These slurs amuse me and make me proud of my liberal Democratic heritage.

It’s true I’m “liberal” in the sense that I’m pro-choice for women, strongly pro-LGBTQ, against any role for religion in governance, in favor of much stricter gun control, and a host of other issues associated with the left. But in one area I’m pretty “conservative,” and that’s my support of the police.

I was raised, in New York City, to trust and respect law enforcement. They were “the thin blue line” that protected us—the law-abiding citizens—from “them,” the criminals who would do us harm. When I was a little boy, cops were portrayed in movies and on T.V. as good guys. Certainly, I never felt the slightest fear of police. Years later, after I moved to Oakland, I became aware that little boys whose skin color was different from mine might have far different attitudes towards cops than I. I understand that; I get it.

But I’m still very pro-cop, and I get angry at the anti-police sentiment here in Oakland, and generally throughout the Bay Area. So, when I learned recently that a coffee shop not far from where I live, Hasta Muerte, has instructed its staff to refuse to serve uniformed officers, should they come in, I got pretty upset.

The San Francisco Chronicle, which first reported the story, called Hasta Muerte to explain their position, but they never heard back. “Hasta Muerte did not return a request for comment,” the reporter wrote. And there’s nothing about Hasta Merte’s action on their website. But I did find Hasta Muerte on Instagram, where, if you open the link, you can see an image of an Oakland Police Department badge and shield X’ed out, in the universal symbol of “Down With.” In a long, rambling message, Hasta Muerte said, We know in our experience working on campaigns against police brutality that we are not alone saying that police presence compromises our feeling of physical & emotional safety.”

Hasta Muerte is entitled to their opinion, and they’re not alone. Anti-cop sentiment is widespread in Oakland, Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area. But I always find myself thinking that, if these cop-haters suddenly found themselves in trouble, they’d welcome the brave police officers who put their lives on the line to protect them.

For once, I’d like to see people like the Hasta Muerte crowd publicly state that under no circumstances will they ever accept the help of any uniformed officer, even if Casa Muerte were robbed, or its employees held hostage by armed thugs, or the store burned down by arsonists. But I’m not holding my breath. If Hasta Muerte is ever in trouble, they’ll do the same thing you and I would—call 9-1-1 and ask for help.

The question of “police presence compromis[ing]…feelings of physical and emotional safety” is frequently heard around Oakland. News reports routinely cite people of color, including children, describing the apprehension they feel at the mere sight of a cop or police car. When I see these stories, something in me sighs. Where do children pick up these ideas? What kind of parent would raise a child to fear the police?

People of color are the biggest victims of crime and violence in cities like Oakland, which is why most people of color support the cops, welcome them into their neighborhoods, and seek to have good relationships with them. As for the cops, police departments in Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco and around the country are well-aware of the perception problem in minority communities, and are trying hard to work with those communities to increase the level of trust, through such policies as community policing, being involved in youth activities, civilian oversight, body cams, and much more intensive training in the use and non-use of firearms.

Yet every time there’s a story about a cop (of any color) shooting a person of color, we get demonstrations against the cops, and demands that the cop who did the shooting be fired, arrested, convicted and sentenced to jail even before the facts of the case are known. We get agitator “civil rights” lawyers who make a lucrative living suing cops, knowing that police departments and the cities that employ them are more likely to settle cases out of court, instead of turning to trial juries that may be biased against cops. We get the most outrageous accusations against the men and women of law enforcement. And we get unthinking, harmful reactions against the police from people like those at Hasta Muerte.

Both sides—cops and cop-bashers—need to work harder to understand and get along with each other. I’m convinced that police departments are doing exactly that. I’m not convinced that “the community,” as evidenced by Hasta Muerte, actually wants to solve the problem of police-community relations. It makes me very sad, and it also boosts the far right, NRA-white supremacist morons out there, because fascist propagandists like Breitbart can use this Hasta Muerte business to imply that people of color are all a bunch of anti-American criminals (which is exactly what Breitbart did on their website). Hasta Muerte plays into the right wing playbook with this kind of stunt, almost as though they’re in cahoots with neo-nazis.

If Hasta Muerte really want to provide a warm and inclusive atmosphere for friends and neighbors to gather [for] community building,” as their website claims, they should be welcoming cops and fostering communication and respect, instead of quashing it.


  1. Bob Rossi says:

    Very thoughtful post.

  2. Robert J Mathews says:

    Steve , if I may?
    I’m not going to call you ” a far-left libtard
    Snowflake proto- communist elitist faggot like
    They do on Breitbart !” Though you may be one
    Or all of
    Personally I feel that when one is debating
    Or defending ones ideology, the use of slurs
    Only demeans ones own position. And as well
    Shows a lack of intelligence.

    Let me prefix this meager missive by stating
    I am a white supremacist / National Socialist
    For just under 50 years.

    My position on left and police is – the
    Left seems to be polarized and radicalized
    With a growing hatred of the police. Their
    Accusation is police are sympathetic to far
    Right. I just don’t see that. I believe that
    It’s the far lefts anti police speech and
    Violence and agitation by left towards
    Police at public events that cause agitation
    By both police and far left. You see police
    With their backs to far right participants at
    Rallies / demo’s and are facing far left &
    ANTIFA. Why is that?
    It’s because far rights not being disrespectful
    To police , nor trying to spit or assault them.
    Its just that simple.

    It’s nice to see another old guy with
    Sleeved tattoos! But imagine yours
    And mine are much different! lol

  3. Dear Robert Mathews, thanks for your comment. I agree with parts of what you said. Like I wrote in my post, I respect cops and I don’t like it when my friends and neighbors insult them or, worse, call for de-funding the Oakland Police Department. However, just because I agree with the Right on this one issue doesn’t mean I agree with them on everything. On most issues, I think the Right is wrong. I also think that a certain percent of the Right is insane (please don’t take that personally!). Too many rightwingers are un-educated. They don’t understand the lessons of History, or even our American Constitution. The Right’s obsession with guns is very disturbing. So is their homophobia, and their hatred of people of color. I suspect that you share those views, and that you are also an anti-Semite. That is very troubling.

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