I have been a Cook County assistant state’s attorney for six years. In this role I defend Cook County police from excessive force lawsuits. I am an avid supporter of law enforcement. That said, our police could benefit from the example set by law enforcement across the country that have joined the protests.
It is clear to me that the majority of protesters want to change the systemic racial issues plaguing our system. That is the ultimate goal. However, the immediate goal seems to be quite different — recognition from those they see as the opposing side: the police.
If we want to de-escalate violence across the country in the midst of the George Floyd protests, police officers should try walking with the protestors, kneeling with the protestors, and embracing their cause.
This would do a few things. Create solidarity and take the wind out of the sails from those who seek to divide us further. This does not have to be an “us versus them” mindset. This has worked in several cities for some very obvious reasons.
It diminishes the schismatic mentality between protestors and police. If protestors and police come together, it is easier to focus on the actual issues that are being protested. Instead of flaring tempers in the face of a potential physical conflict, “both sides” can more easily become one.
It will separate those true believers in free speech and reform from those who are simply taking advantage of the situation to loot, riot, and burglarize. Together, police and protestors can expose those who have come simply to create unlawful mayhem and destroy property and small businesses.
The message of the protests is in danger of becoming lost in the midst of the violence. There must be police that are willing to step in and join the protestors of our city.
Joseph Murphy is currently on a one year mobilization with the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.