Ken Schram is upset about McGinn’s apology for his police using pepper spray on peaceful protesters. Not for the police using pepper spray, but for the apology.
What is it that we expect of police?
To protect people and property throughout the community. Professionalism. Integrity. They don’t always meet those standards, of course. No group of people will 100% of the time. So I assume this will be a post about how we better handle that? Awesome! We rarely have the chance to discuss that at that level.
I ask that rhetorical question in light of Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn apologizing for cops who pepper-sprayed Occupy Seattle protestors last Tuesday because there were some who refused to obey their legitimate orders.
Really you think, “What is it that we expect of police?” is a rhetorical question? It’s not foundational? It’s not the basis for how media folks like Ken Schram ought to deal with the police?* Anyway, if you’re wondering what we can reasonably expect from Seattle police, well good news, there’s an SPD Manual (large .pdf). We can judge them against that, for starters.
So let’s play this out.
Would Mayor Mike have issued a mea-culpa if it had been a Ku Klux Klan demonstration and some elderly racist had taken a face full of pepper spray for ignoring police orders?
I would hope so. Everybody has a right to protest. And even despicable people don’t deserve to be pepper sprayed. It’s impossible to know, except presumably YOU COULD HAVE ASKED HIM. What with you being a TV and radio personality, and all.
I don’t think so.
You’re on TV, for Christ sake, you don’t really have to just guess. Call him up and throw the hypothetical at him. That’s what we expect of our news people.
Also, are there lots of demonstrations that McGinn disagrees with that are getting pepper sprayed? If so how about write about them? If not, then it sort of disproves your point, doesn’t it?** Finally, your analogy doesn’t hold up since the Klan have never, to my knowledge, made a commitment to nonviolence, as Occupy Seattle have. So, really, awesome metaphor all around.
What’s obvious here is that police need to be given a list of protesters that we absolutely won’t tolerate breaking the law, and a list of protesters that we give a wink and a nod to when they do something illegal because we agree with what they’re demonstrating against.
Or how about a specific set of standing orders. Like in the Manual linked to above that says (OC Spray is what’s commonly referred to as Pepper Spray, bold mine):
Personnel assigned OC spray, Patrol C.A.R.T or TASER less lethal force options are authorized to use these agents or devices during Unusual Occurrences (UOs), consistent with Department policy, unless otherwise directed by a Supervisor or the Incident Commander. Officers should weigh the capabilities and limitations of these force options in a crowd control setting. Less lethal force, specifically OC spray (Oleoresin Capsicum) or other riot control agents, shall not ordinarily be used to overcome passive resistance by nonviolent and/or peaceful protesters, absent additional compelling factors, or unless previously approved by the Incident Commander.
So it’s true that anyone, regardless of ideology, shouldn’t get pepper sprayed by the cops when they’re acting nonviolently. That seems like the logical thing.
If Mayor Mike would just inform police which illegal actions deserve his dispensation then SPD could save their pepper-spray for those whose protests genuinely offend his sensibilities and political points of view.
Nobody is saying don’t do anything. They’re saying don’t pepper spray people when it goes against procedures, and when you do, it’s right to apologize. People were willing to get arrested, and the police should have complied, but this is beyond that.
Also, Ken Schram often complains that the government is too big, wasteful, and out of control. Take for instance his most recent commentary that there must be waste out there somewhere in Washington State. Really, how someone like that says if you don’t obey police orders, you should be pepper sprayed is beyond me.
If Mayor Mike wants selective law enforcement, the least that should be expected of him is to do the selecting.
You still haven’t proved that he wants selective enforcement; you’ve only had a pointless hypothetical where you compared nonviolent protesters to people who engage in lynching. If McGinn supported selective enforcement, I think there would be camping at Westlake, the food tent wouldn’t have been removed, the city wouldn’t have ticketed people who honked in support, and the police wouldn’t have cleared the nonviolent protests at various places at all, pepper spray or no. Here, to cite one example, McGinn makes the point that he isn’t going to make specific exceptions for Occupy Seattle. “But when it comes to free speech, government does not get to do that. We are not allowed to favor one type of speech over another. That is anathema to the Constitution.”
With that, we’ll all be clear on exactly what we expect of police.
We should expect professionalism from them at all times. We give them a gun, we give them TASERS, we give them pepper spray, and we expect them to use it in a manner consistent with the rules. It doesn’t look like the officer who used pepper spray on peaceful protesters did that, but there will be an investigation. I support the due process rights of the officers who used pepper spray, and if there were orders, to use pepper spray, etc. I’d like to know that.
* Ken, if you don’t mind me using your first name, those were rhetorical questions.
** Also rhetorical questions.