In December 2014, a number of people protesting police brutality held a “die-in” at the Covington Police Headquarters in Kentucky. Organizer Nicole Comer said, “I have seen and heard a lot of hateful comments as to why we are protesting. Protesting is needed because it is not allowing these actions by these police officers who feel they can kill because they have a badge …. Unfortunately, history shows that police treat blacks unfairly and we want an immediate end to police brutality. It’s not about black and white. It’s about right and wrong.” The protestors held signs that stated “Stop Police Brutality” and “Black Lives Matter.” Recently, several high-profile cases in which a black man (Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York; Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri) died at the hands of police. One of the good things that Covington Police did was to lend the protestors a bullhorn, an act that Assistant City Manager Frank Warnock mentioned at a Covington City Commission meeting in January 2015. Mr. Warnock said, “I thought it was a very good thing.” Mayor Sherry Carran said that Police Chief “Spike [Jones] was in constant contact with the organizers of that event and made sure they had what they needed and that things were under control. I think we impressed upon a group of people how we do our policing.” Chief Jones said, “The folks that assembled that day were very peaceful and we were appreciative of that. We are in the business of protecting and preserving the Constitution of the United States and that includes the First Amendment. It’s the first because some people felt it was the most important. These folks were exercising that right peacefully.” On 7 January 2015, an article headlined “When Anti-Police Protesters Didn’t Have Bullhorn, Covington Police Lent Them One” appeared in The River City News of Northern Kentucky. In a comment on the headline (that appeared on The River City News website, clear evidence that The River City News supports the First Amendment), Vanessa Wieland pointed out that the protestors were not anti-police — they were anti-police brutality. This is an important distinction because all responsible people, including good police officers, should be, like the protestors, anti-police brutality. This is Vanessa Wieland’s full comment: “Protesters aren’t ‘Anti-Police’ they are anti-police brutality. There is a difference and that headline is sloppy. As for the protests, cities across the nation were having them; this was about a greater degree of solidarity, and that’s pretty well-known, even to casual followers, so the confusion shown by the police as to ‘why here?’ It’s because abusers of power exist everywhere.” Mitch Ruth also made an interesting comment: “I went to school with Spike Jones, he was a good guy then and he’s a good guy now. If you got to be arrested you would be lucky to have him making the collar. I also point to the hostage situation some months ago in Latonia as testament to Chief Jones’ quality of leadership. I agree that in many cases police brutality is getting out of hand and the ‘obey me or get shot’ mentality needs to be opposed by all responsible citizens. But I can happily point to Spike and several other contentious [sic, should be conscientious] officers I know as evidence that there is still a lot of hope for the situation.” The hostage situation in Latonia, a neighborhood of Coventry, Kentucky, occurred in December 2013 when a military veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder barricaded himself in his home with his three children. He released his three children and then got in a shootout with police. He fired at police and then was shot in the arm in return fire. The military veteran then surrendered.
Recommended Reading: Rich Juzwiak and Aleksander Chan, “Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014.” Gawker. 8 December 2014 <http://tinyurl.com/lejss2m>.
For More Information: “When Anti-Police Protesters Didn’t Have Bullhorn, Covington Police Lent Them One.” The River City News (Northern Kentucky). 7 January 2015
For More Information: “Protest: Dozens ‘Die In’ at Covington Police Headquarters.” The River City News (Northern Kentucky). 13 December 2014
For More Information: “Standoff between military vet, police comes to an end in Kentucky.” FoxNews.com. 22 December 2013
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