Get in, we’re burning down Cabela’s – Ferguson and San Francisco
Police must use some kind of standard training manual that offers current tips on how to talk to the press. Certainly a great cartoon making its rounds on Facebook might make many think so.
The cartoon features two bucks in a car, antlers sticking out the windows, hellbent on their urgent mission with this line: “Get in, we’re burning down Cabela’s.”
Now, for those who might not know what a Cabela’s is (since there are none in California), they’re retail hunting gear stores similar to BassPro. Fifty-seven Cabela’s stores are located in or near metropolitan areas, so if your average deer were seeking revenge for being brutalized out in the deep Missouri woods, for instance, that stag would have to drive to the city of St. Louis, the location of the only Cabela’s in the state.
Or, as the hypothetical police standard training manual would undoubtedly point out — the buck would have to drive to Hazelwood, Missouri, 11 miles outside St. Louis.
Apparently, these days, law enforcement officials are trying to win the hearts and minds of their local citizens by reverting to geographic hairsplitting when discussing where the agitators are coming from.
Consider, for example, the November 28 arrests in Ferguson, Missouri. Of the 16 arrested for protesting a grand jury’s failure to indict former police officer Darren Wilson for shooting an unarmed black teen, 15 of them, according to KMOV, St. Louis, were from “out of town,” one protestor specifically cited as being “from Berkeley.”
Similarly, an article in The Blaze regarding those same arrests cited this tweet: “Worth repeating: the ppl tonight who called for Wilson’s death/communist revolution were outsiders, NOT regular protestors here #Ferguson.”
It was the same song and dance coming out of San Francisco on November 29 for the Ferguson protestors on Black Friday in Union Square. The officious police chief, Greg Suhr, stood up to report that of the 79 arrests the SFPD made, only 23 were from San Francisco with 56 of the agitators coming from other California cities or “from out of state.”
Now, all this back and forth finger pointing might be funny if it were not so tragic.
Take Berkeley, for instance. Out here in the hinterland, many regard Berkeley as the very seat of American agitation. In terms of actual distance, however, Berkeley is, in fact, only 10 miles outside San Francisco or approximately the same distance that Hazelwood is from St. Louis.
Perhaps the police think we citizens are incapable of using our Google map features?
A quick peek will demonstrate that there are actually 25 different cities within 13 miles of the city of San Francisco. Oakland is 11 miles out, Emeryville is 8, Alameda, 7 and so on.
Since both metropolitan St. Louis and the Bay Area are quite large, this new police blame strategy surely must be taken straight out of something like How to Talk to the Press for Police Dummies. The blame game might be funny if it did not underscore the sad truth. We are a nation in denial.
Perhaps the police have been shielded so long by the shady lawyers representing their unions they euphemistically refer to as “Peace Officer Associations” that they are just now tuning in to what Americans have been saying because we are now out in the streets. Perhaps if we all changed our profile pictures to “hands up, don’t shoot” like last summer’s Facebook ALS ice bucket challenge, we could get through to them.
I think often about the conundrum posted by Facebook’s Cop Block – “I’ll believe there are good cops when I see them turn on the bad ones.” Why don’t they ever do that? Are there never any instances of bad ones? Would police change if they had to face us in court and look us directly in the eyes to say how they are just doing their jobs?
Whether we want to know how 24 SFPD officers do not owe a “duty of care” to enforce an existing law – CA Penal Code 401 – to stop a suicide baiting in Hallidie Plaza on February 16, 2010, or whether we want to know how a police officer can act as a judge and jury on the street in 90 seconds, many of us are tired of the special immunities, the lack of training, the failure to be held accountable.
The training manual we really need would be for victims of police misconduct and brutality. Its acronym should be A.C.T. – Accountability. Cameras. Training.
How sad it is that our police do not understand that both Ferguson and San Francisco share approximately the same latitude on the globe. Everyone alive shares the same address as we spin on the same blue marble through time. All lives matter here. Although we do not condone more violence to fix violence, we understand.
If not, it’s just going to be more “Get in, we’re burning down Cabela’s.”