I was born and raised in Minneapolis and am horrified by the brutal murder of George Floyd by a police officer as other officers looked on and did nothing.
I am also horrified by the destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses in my native city and thousands more around the country, and by the targeting, and even killing, of police officers in the ensuing riots.
I feel fortunate to live in a city that is one of the safest in America and where I know that with a phone call I can rely upon our police to assist me if I ever need their help.
That is why I am in disappointed that Debbie Nathan, a journalist who recently published a report on the use of “beanbag rounds” by local police to Bob Moore’s El Paso Matters, published the attached chart on her Chucopedia Facebook page.
In it, she purports to document which El Paso politicians are “taking cop money,” as if it is a terrible thing to accept contributions from our local police and sheriff associations, which have a legal right to support candidates who will safeguard their members’ interests.
I think it is reasonable for El Pasoans to debate whether police should fire beanbag rounds and tear gas at protesters, or whether it is appropriate for police to don riot gear at non-violent demonstrations. Their handling of the Duranguito demonstration in 2017 was particularly troubling to me and many other El Pasoans.
But do our police deserve to be demonized?
There is a petition circulating around El Paso, already signed by more than 6,500 people, demanding the resignation of El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen on the grounds that he called the Black Lives Matter Movement a “radical hate group” in 2016 and that the police used excessive force at a recent protest against the murder of George Floyd.
There is also a counter-petition circulating around El Paso in support of Allen that has already collected 4,900 signatures. It highlights his 42 years of service to El Paso and his long and distinguished career.
While I recognize that some police officers can abuse their power and hurt innocent people and that on many occasions that has happened even in El Paso, I also recognize that they have a very dangerous job and that dozens of them are killed in the line of duty every year across America.
I believe that most El Paso police officers are honorable people and I am sorry to see them collectively vilified in this manner.