ADDED: Judging from Tapper’s own reporting at the top of “The Lead,” violence broke out in numerous places in Ferguson Monday night, but not where he protested a heavy police presence. Maybe that’s a coincidence, but it is worth pointing out.
During what the Huffington Post called “an impassioned monologue,” CNN’s Jake Tapper blasted the Ferguson police for a show of force during a protest Monday night. On one side of a downtown street flanked by businesses, the camera reveals a large group of protesters. A block or two away, on the other side of street, sat a line of armed and uniformed police officers carrying shields, batons, and semi-automatic weapons.
Tapper let loose with a rare show of emotion and indignant editorializing:
What is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in downtown America. These are armed police with semi-automatic rifles, with batons, with shields, many of them dressed for combat. Now why they’re doing this, I don’t know. Because there is no threat going on here, none, that merits this. There is none. Absolutely, there have been looters. Absolutely over the last nine days there’s been violence, but there is nothing going on right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing. So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson Missouri are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn’t make any sense.
Actually, what the police did does make sense.
Given what we know has happened over the last week (especially the last four nights), it seems a little unfair to publicly berate the cops for being fully prepared to protect innocent protesters, civilians, private property and themselves.
Last week I would’ve been right next to Tapper letting those cops have it.
But after the past nine days…?
How many lootings, arson fires, Molotov cocktails, and shootings do their have to be before we welcome a serious police presence at a potential flashpoint … even in Ferguson. If some in Ferguson are still upset over a heavy police presence after what’s happened to their community these past few nights, my guess is that these are scumbags looking for an excuse to get upset.
Moreover, after nights of violence, the constant threat of media criticism probably pales in comparison to a reality in which the police actually do need to carry batons, shields, and rifles. If violence breaks out — and chances are it will — the cops can’t call a time-out while they run back to the precinct and properly suit up.
When you have a large group of protesters (if you look close at the CNN video, some have their face covered — which is never a good sign) amassed in a business/residential district, considering what’s happened the previous nine nights, it would be highly irresponsible for the police not to have this kind of presence … to not act as a deterrent and be right there to immediately serve and protect, as opposed to being a radio call away.
All I know is that after more than a week of anarchy, as a peaceful protester I would be glad to see the police at the ready.
If I were one of the business owners along that route, I would be feeding that line of cops cocoa, donuts, and hugs.
And maybe — and I’m just speculating here — the presence of those cops is one of the reasons this particular protest remained pretty peaceful.
Although I didn’t go as far as some other conservatives with the cause de jour of de-militarizing the police, I did agree that at first the Ferguson cops were guilty of over-policing. I still believe that. After four nights of anarchy, though, it’s time to put that narrative away for a more appropriate time. Thousands of innocent people are under siege — many of them poor, many of them black.
The working poor don’t have time to protest and prepare soundbytes for the media. They are too busy working, being poor, and guarding their property and families. They are the victims now. Not a bunch of protesters offended at the sight of police officers willing to give their lives to keep them safe.
The only priority in Ferguson right now should be to make the streets safe for the residents of Ferguson who have been trapped in their homes for over a week. Period.
Monday night a large group of protesters amassed in a Ferguson business district and there was no violence or property damage. Along with the peaceful protesters, I’m going to give the police some of the credit for that.
P.S. I should add that I have nothing but respect for Tapper, and that this is just one moment in a lot of terrific reporting. But the rest of the media is blowing this particular moment up, not the good stuff.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC