Rich­mond has be­come an un­civ­i­lized city

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OPINIONS -


I want to love it here, as Rich­mond now is my home.

But maybe I was spoiled. I grew up in a civ­i­lized city, where cops ig­nored you if you lit a joint and smoked it 10 feet away from them; where, when the coun­try’s ma­jor cities were burn­ing in race ri­ots, my city didn’t. But my idea of a civ­i­lized city has badly been shaken. On my way to the June­teenth vigil at the Robert E. Lee mon­u­ment, all streets around the mon­u­ment were blocked by po­lice, as though they ex­pected trou­ble. It has been my ex­pe­ri­ence fol­low­ing the re­cent Ge­orge Floyd protests na­tion­wide that trou­ble, as of­ten as not, is in­sti­gated by the po­lice. There was no need for the po­lice the night of the vigil.

I also no­ticed civil­ians openly car­ry­ing firearms. In 50 years of liv­ing in that lost city of mine, I never saw a civil­ian car­ry­ing a firearm, and it wasn’t be­cause they were car­ry­ing con­cealed. A city pop­u­lated by thou­sands of John Waynes is not a civ­i­lized city. What I saw in Rich­mond — even if it was le­gal — was crazy. It seemed to scream: “Let’s see if we can at­tract trou­ble.”

There is only one side to the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment: Po­lice may not, with­out proper cause, take a hu­man life. Fail­ing that, it’s mur­der. When good cops de­fend a cop who un­nec­es­sar­ily has taken a life, they be­come bad cops. They, too, need to be re­moved from po­lice work.

If a com­mu­nity and its po­lice are at odds, there is some­thing ter­ri­bly wrong, and it al­ways is on the po­lice. It is the job of the po­lice force to pro­tect the cit­i­zens un­der its care, not to be their prison guards.

Rich­mond needs to think and act like a civ­i­lized city.



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