Should police officers do more to protect people at political demonstrations? | The Tylt
Should police officers do more to protect people at political demonstrations?
Police have consistently failed to keep demonstrators apart during political rallies. The police in Charlottesville, Virginia, pretty much let white supremacists and counter protesters openly brawl in the streets. In the past, police stood by in Berkeley when armed white supremacists fought with local anti-fascist demonstrators.
But during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, police were able to maintain control despite the huge numbers of armed protesters, thanks to assertive and aggressive crowd control tactics.
A large plaza was filled with Trump diehards, Revolutionary Communists, Wobblies, and Alex Jones disciples. As in Charlottesville, there were plenty of heavily armed men in quasi-military gear, toting rifles. But just as confrontations between the groups seemed near to getting out of hand, police swooped into the square in huge numbers, using bicycles to create cordons between rival factions. The threat of violence soon passed, and no pepper spray or tear gas was needed.
The police are losing control at these rallies. The violence must stop.
Police are facing a tougher situation with these political protests. In recent years, most protests have been demonstrations against law enforcement, which makes crowd control more straightforward. With these alt-right rallies, police not only have to deal with armed people who are aligned against law enforcement, but also with armed people who are fighting against each other.
Police can keep peace at these rallies but they need far higher numbers and must operate far more aggressively than what the public is used to. Police can do more to keep political protests safe but it's unlikely that citizens will be happy with what that would look like. Public safety has to be balanced with the First Amendment. When people are out there and they really want to fight each other, there's only so much the police can do without their cooperation.
Lt. Joseph Hatter, a commander with the Charlottesville police, told the Post that officers tried to create separate areas. "It didn't work, did it?" he admitted. "I think there was a plan to have them separated. They didn't want to be separated."He told the newspaper that he doesn't know that police waited to react to the violence. "I think we did the best we could under the circumstances."