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Dems risk the election if they bash cops

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Did you hear about that incident over the weekend where a Tempe, Arizona Starbucks barista asked five cops to leave the store because a customer said he or she “did not feel safe” in their presence?

A hashtag, #DumpStarbucks, immediately started trending on Twitter. I must admit to being stunned and offended by this story. By all accounts, the cops were doing nothing except peacefully enjoying their coffee. We know almost nothing about the customer who didn’t feel “safe,” but we can infer quite a lot about him or her.

My city, Oakland, is filled with similar people. They hate cops. Some call for completely defunding the Oakland Police Department. They put up flyers cursing cops and occasionally you see graffiti advocating violence against the police. In fact, in casual conversations, you hear anti-cop sentiment on a daily basis in Oakland.

I myself, when I see a cop on the beat, always thank them for their service. They seem startled, at first, but after a second they hear my sincerity—they realize I’m not being sarcastic—and they see my smile, and they thank me. It’s a small moment, but a precious one, for both of us. They know that not everyone in Oakland despises them, and I feel better for giving them a little gratitude.

I can’t put myself in the head of someone who would “not feel safe” in a coffee shop just because some cops are there. I’d feel safer! What is wrong with that person? I hope he or she is identified and asked by the media to explain such a bizarre attitude. Probably they’d say something about cops being oppressors, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, etc. Granted these can be issues: cops are only human, and all humans can be assholes, even—especially—the current President of the United States.

But let’s also remember that the majority of cops are fine, upstanding, decent and law-abiding Americans, who put their lives on the line every time they wear the uniform. And for what? To serve and protect US. The Starbucks customer who complained ought to be more fearful of getting assaulted by a criminal, not by a cop. And who’s the first person she would call if she were assaulted? The cops!

If Trump wins re-election, God forbid, it’s going to be because of accumulated instances like this, which turn into national memes that can supersede larger issues, like climate change or war. The vast, overwhelming majority of Americans on both sides of the political aisle respect the police. We do not want to see them vilified or ridiculed or hurt. I consider myself a lifelong liberal, but this growing barrage of resentment against cops is really turning me off to the extremists in my own Democratic Party who engage in this anti-cop rhetoric.

I loathe the rightwing radicals in the Republican Party who voted for Trump and continue to support him. I consider them clear and present dangers to our way of life. I think many, maybe most, of them are crazy. But if you’re a Democrat, you have to acknowledge that we have our crazies, too. They’re not quite as obnoxious or numerous as the rightwing crazies, but they’re pretty bad. And cop-bashing is one way to identify them.

Some police reformers would argue that there’s no room for a single bad cop, but the truth is, there are always going to be some. The Oakland Police Department is engaged in a long, serious struggle to weed out bad cops, and to engage in extensive training, including de-escalation techniques, community policing, sensitivity classes and the like. What more do the anti-cop types want? That Starbucks customer who “did not feel safe,” what does she want? She probably doesn’t know, herself, beyond some shopworn platitudes.

I’ll be voting Democratic next year, but every time I hear things like that Starbucks customer hating on cops, I understand a little more about why so many Obama voters switched their allegiance to Trump. And I’m not entirely unsympathetic to them.

  1. Bob Rossi says:

    A very thought-provoking post, and one which I totally agree with. I hadn’t read about the incident, but it greatly offends me. Not only is it the kind of thing that can hurt the Democrats in the next election, but it’s just plain disgusting.

  2. I have actually lost friends in Oakland because of my pro-cop stance.The cop haters have a slogan they spraypaint around town: ACAB. I had to Google it to find out what it means: All Cops Are Bastards. How do you even talk to such people?

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