- - Sunday, January 4, 2015


President Obama is off base if he thinks that the race debate has surfaced in a healthy way (“Obama: Police protests a ‘healthy’ display in race debate,” A3, Dec. 30). The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and other localities, as well as the destruction of property and individual attacks, have not fueled productive discourse. Instead, they have produced an incendiary outcome with problematic undertones.

The activist Rev. Al Sharpton, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and, to some extent, Mr. Obama have contributed to the aggression and violence through their words and actions, and this has caused multifaceted and serious consequences. The byproduct of their involvement has inspired a backlash of vengeance and hate directed at law enforcement personnel.

It is a known fact that politicians try to be all things to all people and make promises they often can’t or won’t fulfill. However, it is more than disheartening when someone such as Mr. de Blasio utters mixed messages. On the one hand, he warns his son to be wary of police and yet, on the other, he claims to stand by and support the New York Police Department. His apparent hypocrisy obviously has left a bitter taste in the mouths of cops and has served to inspire public discontent. Mr. Sharpton’s power of persuasion with potent messages accompanied by incisive words has molded perceptions and motivated minds to dangerous and dysfunctional levels.

It is understandable that the police feel under attack by those in office who vowed to stand by them. Now they, too, have become victims, as evidenced by the recent and tragic ambush of New York Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu. Perhaps Vice President Joseph R. Biden offered the most genuine touch of reality when he spoke sincerely through the lens of his own experiences of the loss of these men.

Cops put their lives on the line every day for the safety of us all. They face situations on the street that are foreign to many and incomprehensible to the majority, who have not walked in their shoes. No one objects to intelligent discussion or healthy debate in the right forum and for the right reasons. However, until such time that emotions can be tempered and calm can prevail, movement in the right direction will be stymied.


Adjunct Professor, Department of Criminology, Law and Society

George Mason University

Arlington, Virginia

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