Watching a 75-year-old man being pushed to the ground by charging police officers during a protest in Buffalo last week was disturbing., but it was wrong for prosecutors to charge the officers with a crime.
If you took a poll as to who was in the wrong here, that being the pushed protester or the police officers who knocked him to the ground, I'd venture to guess that about 95% of the public would lay blame on the police. Count me in the 5% minority.
No decent person wants to see a fellow human being pushed, knocking his head against the concrete and bleeding before our eyes.
But it's necessary to put this into proper context.
This wasn't some individual minding his own business, being approached by an officer and whacked with a baton. This was a self-absorbed activist, albeit a feeble one, getting into the faces of police officers as they were marching into lockdown mode.
What did he expect was going to happen? Did he think he was going to engage in a philosophical conversation with officers as they were focused on moving a crowd for the protection of the public? What if dozens of other protestors followed his lead and deliberately got in the space of these charging officers?
This isn't tiddlywinks we're talking about here. It's neither easy nor fun to move a mob of thousands to a different location to protect the property and personal safety of the innocent. When you're being pelted with rocks and Molotov cocktails, as police around the country have been, you're not in a frame of mind to have any side conversations. Your first instinct is to get your job done, to survive the moment and to get back to your family in one piece that evening.
Unfortunately, over 300 officers in New York City alone have been injured during these "peaceful" protests.
Though there might not have been the pelting of officers with foreign objects at that particular time in Buffalo, each of these men and women in blue knew that it could happen at any moment. What if this "peaceful" protestor pulled a knife on the officers. Do they have to wait for that to happen before getting an intruder out of their personal space?
If you purposely place yourself in the path of a charging police force, you have to expect you're going to be shoved aside. It so happens that this individual was an older man who fell back without breaking his fall. It was a tragic scene. But don't blame the cops. Blame the instigator. This isn't to say that I wished injury upon him, but you indeed assume a certain risk when you fail to follow police orders and put the police in more jeopardy by distracting them.
There is a reasonable discussion that can be had as to whether the pushing police officers overreacted, thereby necessitating their firing. And it was also incomprehensible why quicker action wasn't taken to assist the fallen man. Personally, I don't think the officers should be fired, but I understand such a conversation.
What's outrageous is the idea that the two officers are now being prosecuted for pushing a man out of the way when he was interfering with the police carrying out their duties. Isn't it ironic how authorities will bring charges against these police officers, but not against some of the more violent protesters, as presently is the case in Manhattan's New York County.
These officers should immediately be pardoned to send a clear message to other officers that we stand behind them. So many have understandably complained that the police were nowhere to be found when our stores were being looted and innocent store owners were getting two-by-fours pounded over their heads.
But we can't be demanding more police protection from the mob while simultaneously handcuffing cops from being able to take the type of necessary actions to protect us. We can't have it both ways.
Steve Levy, former New York state assemblyman, Suffolk County executive, and candidate for governor, is now a distinguished political pundit. Levy's commentary has been published in such media outlets as Washington Times, Washington Examiner, New York Post, Albany Times, Long Island Business News, and City & State Magazine. He hosted "The Steve Levy Radio Show" on Long Island News Radio, and is a frequent guest on high profile television and radio outlets. Few on the political scene possess Levy's diverse background. He's been both a legislator and executive, and served on both the state and local levels — as both a Democrat and Republican. Levy published "Bias in the Media," an analysis of his own experience, after switching parties, with the media's leftward slant. Levy is currently Executive Director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a fiscally conservative think tank. He is also President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. To learn more about his past work and upcoming appearances, visit www.stevelevy.info. Read Steve Levy's Reports — More Here.
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