Being a police officer sucks these days. They used to get away with murder—literally—but now the public is holding them accountable. Sheesh, right?!? I'd be huffy too if I couldn't get away with lying when, historically, police have been able to lie about any and everything.
So last week when the SLO Police Department presented its 100-page after-action review about using tear gas and rubber bullets on a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters on June 1 of last year, officers were undoubtedly surprised that public comment at the Feb. 16 SLO City Council Zoom meeting called bullshit on the self-serving report and personally attacked police and city officials for the tear-gassing.
I mean, there is the silver lining that the police got to investigate themselves rather than, say, some independent auditor who would have been unbiased. At least that's still one good thing about being cop—you can examine your own actions and agree with yourself that you did the right thing. If you pat yourself on the back, that's yoga, right?
Wasn't it entirely predictable to anyone with a functioning brain that the SLOPD's after-action report would have an obvious police-centric narrative of what occurred on June 1 along with a few softball recommendations on how they could "improve." Louder megaphones and rechargeable bodycam batteries, anyone? Nothing about de-escalation or use of force retraining because, why?
That Feb. 16 meeting didn't offer enough time for everyone to vent, deflect, and disparage to their heart's content, so the Zoom meeting resumed on Feb. 23, but this time, something was different! That weeklong break gave police time to bitch and moan to Mayor Heidi Harmon and council members that they lost control of the meeting and that those mean activists and protesters who were calling the police pigs and worse shouldn't have been allowed to criticize the police so sharply.
Yep, the po-po's feelers got hurt! How dare Harmon allow those reprobates, hooligans, and anarchists unfettered rein to insult and lambast! Harmon and the council must have gotten a shellacking by the police because the Feb. 23 meeting was a real apology-fest.
"What happened last week was way outside of the bounds of how we show up to a City Council meeting," Harmon said, sounding chagrined. "I'm sorry to all involved we weren't able to hold the line for civility."
How hard was that to choke out? After all, Harmon is pro-BLM, and in a moment of true humility, she admitted that allegiance had colored her perception.
"There was an exception made and potentially bias on my part," she admitted. "There might be some truth in it. I want to own that. But [I] just want to name that it is incredibly difficult to preside over Zoom [meetings]."
Word. Very hard to control, especially when protesters are pissed that they got tear-gassed for exercising their 1st Amendment rights! Zoom sucks!
Former mayor and current Councilmember Jan Marx had some sage advice for the tear-gassed protesters.
"I have been tear-gassed," Marx said. "I've been arrested during protests. It doesn't wreck your life. It can be a badge of honor. That's what I would love to see from some of the people who have been protesting and really take it to heart and not just repeat like a cookie cutter lines that are coming from other sources."
Yeah, Tianna Arata, instead of screaming "Black Lives Matter" and "defund the police," just be proud you got tear-gassed. Just ignore the fact that SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow has been doing his best to ruin your life with ridiculous trumped-up charges.
Tell you what, Jan, why don't you get back to protesters like Arata after the DA has come after you? Oh wait, your white privilege is an impenetrable cloak of invisibility that shields you.
"We do not need to reduce the resources for our police department," Marx added, showing that she and Dow are such allies she'd never have to worry about becoming a target like Arata. "We don't need to defund them. We need the opposite. We need more resources."
Yeah! Refund the police! Blue lives matter! Protect the police from having water bottles thrown at them!
The best part of the meeting was when Interim Chief Jeff Smith police-splained to everyone how his department's June 1 tear-gassing was absolutely warranted and necessary.
"I want to be firm that this was no longer a peaceful protest, but a protest that had turned to attacking police officers," Smith said. "I stand by the decision that was made that day. I'm happy there were no serious injuries and we were able to effectively end what had turned into a really bad situation."
When are the police going to realize that videotape exists and that they can't arbitrarily interpret what's on it to fit their narrative? If you saw the recently released drone footage of the silver BMW striking protester Sam Grocott on the highway on June 1, you know the charge against Grocott for "jumping" onto the hood of the car is utter nonsense, and if you've seen the footage of the protest in front of the police station later than evening, it's clear that tear gas and rubber bullets were a choice, not a necessity.
Sorry about the new "no lying" rule, cops. Sucks, amirite? Δ
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