Patricia Smith: Where’s the Nevada County I love?
Living above Lefty’s restaurant at the corner of Broad and Sacramento streets, I got a bird’s eye view of the Black Lives Matter protest last Sunday. It started out as a peaceful protest like many I’ve witnessed before, but within minutes, several pickup trucks of Trump supporters stormed the scene.
It didn’t take long for the violence to escalate. They were looking to start trouble and that’s exactly what they did. Screaming, spitting, punching, pushing, using the American flag as a weapon, ripping signs out of people’s hands, destroying people’s cell phones — big burly thugs standing up against old women and young children. How brave!
Then I saw three police cars arrive and I thought, “Thank God, they will stop the violence.” Wrong. They just stood around their cars, with the exception of Officer Ewing who actually marched alongside the troublemakers.
Many of the violent counter-protesters have been identified on Facebook already. Chief Ellis, can you explain why to date (Aug. 12), no one has been arrested?
Ironically I thought these “patriots” believed in the Constitution. Obviously that doesn’t pertain to the First Amendment. News flash: the Second Amendment is only one of many in the Constitution. Maybe they should read it sometime. All of it.
These so-called “patriots” seem to be rallying for an America as depicted in old Hollywood movies and ’50s TV shows. One that was lily white, where men were large and in charge, women were subservient to their husbands, and people of color knew their place — or suffered the consequences when speaking out against injustice.
This is totally unacceptable. Our community deserves better. The BLM movement is protesting over unnecessary police brutality and needless killings of people of color. They aren’t saying all police are bad because, in fact, most police officers serve our community honorably. But that is not to say that all police officers are honorable. The bad apples need to be rooted out and removed from the force. They are tarnishing the reputations of good officers with their ugly behavior.
Attempts to dilute the BLM message by countering that “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter” is a red herring to change the topic. Of course, all lives matter. That’s not the issue. When we see a black cop kneeling on a white man’s neck until he dies, then perhaps this counter message would be relevant.
Calls to “Defund the Police” have also been perverted into something other than the original intent. No one is seriously suggesting that we disband the police. We are asking that a certain portion of the budget be diverted to social agencies that are better equipped to handle domestic disputes and engage with persons who have mental health or drug addiction issues freeing officers to devote their time to more pressing issues.
One solution I have heard many people call for is a Citizens Review Board for oversight of police aggression. Under the circumstances, I think this would be a good move to restore confidence in our police and sheriffs’ departments.
Another great idea floated by my friend, Pinky Zalkin, is to have nonviolent protest training available to those who want to join the demonstrations. The Peace and Justice Center of Nevada County is looking into organizing classes that teach protocols that have been used successfully by nonviolent protestors like Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
When our elected officials and police departments champion the lawbreakers, they are setting a dangerous precedent that only encourages more bad behavior.
Without restraints, the violence is likely to get worse until someone is seriously injured or even killed.
This is not the Nevada County I know and love.
Patricia Smith lives in Nevada City.
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