I live in North Carolina and was sad to read today that even the Raleigh police department felt the need to make a statement about Beyonce. Seriously? When required, police in the United States have protected some of the worst of humanity. To their credit, they have done their duty even when it meant keeping from harm those suspected of being mob bosses, murderers and traitors. Certainly our police have seen to it over the years that citizens requiring care are not harmed for expressing an opinion, even opinions not liked by most police. Why? Because these are largely men and women of honor, who understand that that their oath to serve and protect includes people they don’t agree with and don’t like.
And yet, the Raleigh police department is actually voting on whether they should protect a singer who dared to indirectly criticize the police during a half-time performance? And this was a performance which most observers didn’t even find all that controversial. Let’s be honest, an oblique reference to the Black Panthers of old is hardly a call to violence against law enforcement, and Black Lives Matter is an organization trying to lesson violence not increase it. Yet …
In a statement to WNCN, Rick Armstrong, VP of Teamsters local 391, said: “The Raleigh Police Protective Association, Teamsters local 391 has called for a special meeting to discuss the concerns many officers have of Beyoncé’s upcoming tour in Raleigh. Our members have expressed specific concerns over the Black Panther images at half time of the Super Bowl. Many officers believe it was disrespectful to the police profession and hope Beyoncé will look to less controversial images to convey her point.”
Maybe this copy cat show of bravado was inevitable. It comes after the New York Police Department asked Beyonce to apologize for her Super Bowl performance, intimating that they would be happy to provide her and her singing tour with the protection she needs only after an apology. I’m curious whether the police of any city have ever threatened to withhold protection from any other performer for any reason? Let’s face it, there have been some controversial ones out there over the years. How many times have police demanded an apology from anyone, criminal or otherwise, before being willing to do their jobs, or to allow their fellow officers to provide protection as a side job? I suspect that this is a first, and I find Beyonce and her barely controversial performance an odd choice for such drastic behavior.
Why am I so certain the performance didn’t enrage the rest of us generally police-supporting people? Well, it didn’t anger anyone I know, and I’m a 61-year-old white woman. But, more statistically significant is that exactly two people showed up at the well-publicized protest of Beyonce’s performance. Two people and reporters, and that is hardly a groundswell of indignation. It is certainly not worthy of the cops in several cities behaving this way. Actually, no concert is.
I honestly think that most of our law enforcement is better than this. It is time that they all went back to acting that way.