bookmark_borderBerklee College wrong to apologize for letting cops use bathroom

In one of the most ridiculous examples of the anti-police attitudes that have taken over America, Berklee College of Music in Boston apologized for allowing cops to use its bathrooms. Yes, you read that right. During the May 31 Black Lives Matter protest, college employees committed the dastardly deed of allowing cops stationed nearby to enter the building to go to the bathroom.

Berklee’s Public Safety Department posted the following message on Instagram:

The fact that Berklee would apologize for this boggles my mind. “We have heard from many of you personally and across social channels of your hurt and anger that this access was permitted,” the letter reads. “We understand that many members of our community feel betrayed. We are deeply sorry for the impact this had on our community and for perpetuating feelings of oppression, silencing, and marginalization… This should not have happened, and going forward, it will not happen again.”

It is also incomprehensible to me that someone could feel hurt, angry, or betrayed that cops were allowed to go to the bathroom. How does letting cops use the bathroom perpetuate feelings of oppression, silencing, or marginalization? If you require that cops be forced to wet their pants in order for you to feel comfortable, you have some serious problems. Anyone with such a mean-spirited, messed-up way of looking at the world does not deserve to be accommodated in any way.

Berklee’s promise that “it will not happen again” is disturbing. What are the cops supposed to do if they have to go to the bathroom?

“Are you allowing Berklee protestors to use the bathrooms?” asked one commenter on Instagram. I disagree with the implication that fairness requires the college to let protesters use the bathrooms as well as cops. People who attend protests are doing so because they want to. They are doing so on their own time, and they are free to go home at any time if they need to go to the bathroom. Cops, on the other hand, are at the protest because it’s their job. Their job requires being stationed in public places for hours at a time, often far from the bathrooms at the police station. They do not have the option of going home until their shift is over. And over the course of a shift, it’s pretty likely that every worker at some point will need to use the bathroom.

Letting cops use the bathroom is the kind, humane thing to do. It does not hurt anyone in any way. How could anyone be against that?

bookmark_borderSuffolk DA Rollins does not know what “impunity” means

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins recently spoke about the arrests of 53 people during the protests/rioting that took place in Boston on Monday night. Although Rollins condemned the destruction of property and violence against police officers, she voiced support and understanding for the motivation behind the protests.

“People are disgusted and outraged, and they should be,” she said. “And it is completely ironic to have to say to you, ‘Please don’t be violent. Please keep your voice down. Please be silent and comply with all of the police’s requirements,’ when in fact it’s those very people that murder us with impunity.”

I don’t think Rollins understands what the word “impunity” means. The four officers whose actions led to the death of George Floyd were promptly fired from their jobs. One of them was charged with second-degree murder and the other three with aiding and abetting murder. Isn’t that the very opposite of impunity?

Before the Boston protest took place, Rollins made the following tweet, which some people are now accusing of helping to motivate the violence and destruction:

The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association pushed back against Rollins’ comments, accusing her of inciting violence against cops and calling it “disgraceful” that she doubled down on those sentiments in her public remarks. “While you quickly and cavalierly label all police officers murderers,” they wrote, “the fact is that BPD officers responded to violent attacks against them with courage and restraint. Instead of slandering our officers as murderers, you should be highlighting their professionalism and dedication to our City.” The full letter can be read below or here:

Rollins then responded with this tweet:

I strongly disagree with the line about “white fragility.” How is it “fragile” for the police union to defend its members? Rollins doesn’t have to agree with the opinions expressed in the letter, but she shouldn’t impugn the character of the people who wrote it. Not to mention the fact that “white fragility” is a racist term – how is it acceptable to make a negative generalization about an entire race? Police officers can be any race; in their letter the police union was speaking not only for its white members but for all of them. With these comments, Rollins is not only personally attacking those who have a different opinion than she does; she is also condemning an entire race as lacking in character. Not very appropriate for a District Attorney.

bookmark_borderBoston restaurant owner: “What did I do to deserve this?”

Last night, as has been happening all over the country, protests against the death of George Floyd turned into rioting in my home city of Boston.

A mob of people surrounded a police car, ripped the doors off, and set it on fire. People vandalized historic churches, set trash cans on fire, tipped over large potted plants, threw bottles at journalists, smashed the windows of countless stores and restaurants, and engaged in looting and destruction all over the city.

In Downtown Crossing and the Theater District, people ransacked a Men’s Warehouse, the jewelry stores Bromfield Jewelers and Skylight Jewelers, the liquor store Wild Duck Wine and Spirits, a convenience store called Downtown Convenience, shoe stores, nail salons, a bank, a cell phone store, and a Walgreens, to give just a few examples. News coverage on NECN last night showed food from the Walgreens strewn all over the sidewalk.

Tany Gad, the owner of Lambert’s Marketplace near Boston Common, which was also vandalized and looted, described the scene: “I never saw anything like this at all in my life. Two of the glass windows were 100% broken and people went inside stealing beer, wine, and cigarettes.”

In the Back Bay, people ransacked stores such as H&M, Cartier, Ugg, Alex and Ani, Canada Goose, Allen Edmonds, Valentino, Burberry, and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as the liquor store Clarendon Wine.

In the South End, people broke into and looted Giorgiana’s Market, the restaurant Frenchie, and sneaker store Laced.

In Dorchester, people destroyed clothing stores Dareales and EbLens.

The Boston Globe summed things up:

Chris Parsons, owner of the Oyster Club restaurant at 79 Park Plaza, went to bed Sunday night hopeful his restaurant had been spared from the violence wracking downtown Boston. He woke up Monday to learn looters had thrown rocks through his windows, pilfered the bar, and destroyed the place.

Kayla Levine was watching the news when she saw the liquor store near Copley Square that her family has owned since 1940 being looted. The damage in the neighborhood, she said, reminded her of the Boston Marathon bombings.

And Driss El Mokri raced downtown Sunday night to his Cafe Bonjour on Temple Street, arriving just as looters smashed the big front window. He stayed until 3:30 a.m., to make sure that was the only damage they did.

Jason Santos, owner of restaurants Abby Lane in the Theater District and Buttermilk & Bourbon in the Back Bay, said: “They stole most of our booze behind the bar, they ripped out the cash registers, and they trashed the place. They even stole my cookbooks.”

Possibly the most poignant comments came from El Mokri of Café Bonjour, who was interviewed live on last night’s news by a NECN reporter. Asked how he felt when, at home watching footage from the restaurant’s security cameras, he saw someone throw a brick through the window, he replied, “Loss of words. Sad. Heartbroken. You feel like, what did I do to deserve this? You talk about justice. This is injustice… What did I do to deserve this? What purpose does this serve? What good does this give to anyone? Nothing… You break my property for nothing and then you feel happy about it.”

Exactly. Café Bonjour did not kill George Floyd. Trash cans and plants do not oppress anyone. None of these businesses deserve any of the harm that was perpetrated against them.

The Boston Police Department tweeted at 9:59 last night: “Those now protesting in the streets of Boston have surrendered the moral high ground.”

I could not agree more. It is incomprehensible why people would choose to deliberately inflict such destruction, particularly given that these businesses have already suffered so much as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting shutdown order.

Additional protests have been happening today and tonight, so let’s hope that no more businesses are added to the list of those vandalized.

bookmark_borderAdditional thoughts on Straight Pride Parade, protests, and District Attorney

The Straight Pride Parade that took place two weeks ago inspired a wide variety of reactions from politicians, judges, law enforcement officials, and others. Here is a summary of these developments and my opinions on them:

Battle between Suffolk D.A. and judge

36 people who protested against the parade were arrested for crimes such as disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on police officers. For 20 arrestees charged only with the first two crimes, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office attempted to drop the charges, but Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott ordered them to be arraigned anyways. This did not please Suffolk D.A. Rachael Rollins, who successfully petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court to overturn the judge’s decision. “By compelling arraignment in every case, the judge punished the exercise of individuals’ First Amendment right to protest,” Rollins said in a statement. “At my request, prosecutors used the discretion constitutionally allocated to the executive branch to triage cases and use our resources most effectively to protect public safety… For those people now tangled in the criminal justice system for exercising their right to free speech—many of whom had no prior criminal record—I will use the legal process to remedy the judge’s overstepping of his role.”

But from what I observed at the parade, the protesters were not merely exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. They were attempting to prevent the parade marchers, whom they vastly outnumbered, from exercising theirs. Screaming at, swearing at, taunting, and insulting people for expressing a minority viewpoint is not free speech; it is bullying. Some protesters against the parade went so far as to openly advocate violence. According to the Boston Herald, an Antifa member named Jon Crowley said that violence was the only appropriate response to the parade. “We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” Crowley said. “They are fascists, 100%. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”

News flash: you do not have a right to get people to “shut up” when you disagree with their views. That’s the whole point of the First Amendment. People who attempt to silence and bully those with unpopular views should, when their actions rise to the level of breaking the law, be prosecuted as zealously and punished as severely as the law allows. Situations like what happened at the parade are the least appropriate situation for prosecutors to consider dropping charges. Also, contrary to what D.A. Rollins implied in her statement, public safety should not be the most important priority of the D.A.’s office; justice should be. And the most important part of justice is standing up for the rights of individuals (such as the parade marchers) against those who would trample on them (such as the jeering mobs of protesters).

John Ciccone, editor of South Boston Today, expressed his thoughts in an emailed statement with which I wholeheartedly agree: “It is the opinion of this newspaper and the overwhelming majority of readers heard from on this matter that the position and action Suffolk County DA Rollins has taken is absolutely wrong. In regard to the members of the so called ANTIFA organization, DA Rollins’ actions encourages the thug like violence of that group, who routinely have denied the rights of free speech and legal and peaceful protest of those they disagree with, not only in Boston during last weekend’s incidents, but in cities all across the nation. Those members of ANTIFA should be made an example of and be prosecuted to the full extend of what the law allows and if found guilty, given the maximum penalty. The message sent out should be loud and clear that they will not be allowed to come into Suffolk County and attack civilians and members of law enforcement without paying a heavy price for those actions.”

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