An Awkward Moment! On Hiding the Police from my Children

Police need to ask themselves, “what if children were watching us right now?”


I found myself in an awkward situation today. I was watching footage from the Occupy movement at Berkeley. Young men and women were linking arms in a line before a contingent of police officers. Suddenly the police erupted in a wave of blue violence, pummeling the protestors with their night sticks. Girls screamed and the crowd shouted in protest, but the line of young protestors held together despite what must have been damaging strikes about the head and rib breaking blows to the body. At least the line held as long as the footage ran.

In the meantime, my children were at the kitchen table doing an art project with mom. When I saw the broad blue line approach the protestors, night sticks in hand, I turned the computer screen away from the children’s view. I couldn’t get the volume down quickly enough, however, so the screaming was very audible. My wife asked me what was going on. “I’ll tell you later,” I responded.

My children have always been taught to respect the police, that the police were “community helpers.” They have been taught that if there is every any trouble that they can trust the police to help them. I haven’t changed my position on that. I still think that’s great advice because I know that it’s unlikely that the troubles my children may face will probably not run contrary to the whims of the corporate class.

Still, it’s a sad testament that I have to turn my children away from the actions of the police who are, quite obviously, not protecting or serving anyone but their corporate overlords. Anyone can see that the actions of police in these many examples, beating protestors with sticks, pepper spraying protestors who are doing nothing more than sitting on a sidewalk. Sometimes the actions of police are nothing more than gang behavior, heavily armed bullies pounding outnumbered young men and women for nothing more than a vague concept of “disobedience.”

My children are young, but they know what bullying is. So now, I’m in a position in which I have to hide actions of the police from my children lest they become confused about the role of “Officer Friendly” in their lives. I have to lead them through a situation in which police are admonished by a crowd to “stop beating students!”

It is the position of the Journal of a Mad Sociologist that the police are the 99%. We must help them understand that when they are beating, dispersing or “pacifying” Occupy members, they are hurting their brothers and sisters. Perhaps they need to understand that, in this postmodern, surveillance society where everyone carries their own security camera, it’s very likely that children may be watching their actions. I’d like to think that the police, in spite of the ingrained socialization through which they do their “jobs” would be inclined to do so differently if they knew that children were watching them.

To the police: In the first video I referenced above it appears that an order was given to strike out at peaceful, non-threatening young people. Perhaps you feel that you are just following orders—just doing your jobs. You do not have to obey. You do not have to raise your clubs or fire your tear-gas or rubber bullets when you know such actions would be reprehensible in the eyes of children. Like the Occupiers when commanded to leave and stay out, you can say “no!” You can join your brothers and sisters on the right side of history. You are the 99%. Serve and protect.

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