In defense of the police
On Monday, The Boston Globe editorial page published a cartoon by Mike Luckovich about law enforcement that prompted a robust discussion with our readers. Here are a few of the letters we received.
It’s wrong to blame the community for the actions of a few individuals
On behalf of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), representing over 241,000 law enforcement officers across the country, I am writing to express our serious concerns with the editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich published in the Boston Globe on Monday.
The cartoon depicts two white police officers, showing “Miranda Rights” for white people and “Last Rites” for black people. This cartoon is offensive and anti-police. By publishing this cartoon, the Boston Globe is supporting the falsehood that all police are racist and aiming to use force against African-Americans. By promoting this opinion, you are further endangering officers on the street, officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. The Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters were inspired by such anti-police rhetoric.
While NAPO supports an individual’s right to free speech, we do not support speech that condemns an entire community for the acts of a few. You should be ashamed of publishing Mr. Luckovich’s cartoon and the hate that it endorses. — William J. Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations
Negative cartoons inflame racial tension
To say that I find the recent editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich, originally published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, morally reprehensible would be an understatement. The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association and its members, along with their families, wish to express our absolute disgust and disappointment with this cartoon and its inclusion on the op-ed page of the Boston Globe. In a sensitive time in our country, with racial tensions running high and riots happening in Milwaukee, the last thing we need is for the media to print inflammatory cartoons that have no basis in fact. A law enforcement professional’s job is difficult enough without the Boston Globe publishing unwarranted hatred toward police. This type of false and negative editorial cartoon serves only one purpose, and that’s to incite racial tension between the police and the communities that we live in, work in, and have sworn to protect. — Patrick M. Rose, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association
Dignity for all expected of media as well as police
Surely you must understand that your editorial cartoon only serves to divide law enforcement and the public. Rather than letting the tragedies we have witnessed divide us, this is a time for us to come together as a community, to share our grief, and look for solutions.
The message we, as police administrators, convey to our officers is that we, as public servants, need to take the high road, and not contribute to the counterproductive rhetoric that serves only to intensify the conflict. Your editorial cartoon does just that — it adds to the counterproductive and inflammatory rhetoric.
We, as police leaders, urge our officers not to fall into the trap of allowing circumstances, such as what we’ve witnessed across this country, to justify an us-versus-them mentality. Your editorial does just that — serves to create a seemingly unbridgeable gulf between law enforcement and the communities we serve and protect.
We in law enforcement understand that our responsibility remains to the communities that we serve under all circumstances. We appreciate that we must understand and respect the dignity of all persons regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual preference or social status. This is the narrative that we expect from the media just as we expect from our police officers.
As President Obama stated in his July 18 open letter to law enforcement:
“Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and the communities you serve. I reject those efforts, for they do not reflect the reality of our Nation . . . As you continue to defend us with quiet dignity, we proclaim loudly our appreciation for the acts of service you perform as part of your daily routine. When you see civilians at risk, you don’t see them as strangers. You see them as your own family, and you lay your life on the line for them. You put others’ safety before your own, and you remind us that loving our country means loving one another.
Even when some protest you, you protect them. What is more professional than that? What is more patriotic? What is a prouder example of our most basic freedoms — to speech, to assembly, to life, and to liberty?”
I urge the Boston Globe to reject, as President Obama does, any narrative that serves to divide us and embrace only dialogue that serves to bring us together. — Gerard A. Coletta, president of the Massachusetts Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators
It’s unfair to cast shadow on all police
The cartoon in Monday morning’s Boston Globe was incendiary and seriously irresponsible, especially given the events in Milwaukee over the weekend. No system of justice can work when assumptions are made before facts are known. Most of us acknowledge there are serious problems with the police and the black community: We have been appalled at some recent events and insist always on police and judicial balance. Your cartoon, however, indicted all of the police, all of the justice system, anticipating injustice even where you do not know it exists. The police cannot function with those assumptions on the part of the public and neither can the courts. You inflamed with stereotype and assumption, exactly what you insist the courts and police not do.
In printing that cartoon, you confirmed to every black person dealing with the police that their interactions will be met with violence. You don’t know that. But you must be aware of the rage you feed and the danger it represents to not just the police, but to every state resident, especially black ones. — Jeffrey Churchill, Mansfield
What good will this do?
The Massachusetts Fraternal Order of Police Executive Board and its members wish to express our disgust and disappointment with the recent cartoon by Mike Luckovich, showing a picture of “Miranda Rights” for white people and “Last Rites” for black people. In a time where racial tension is very high and riots are happening across the country, the last thing this country needs is for the media to print inciting articles or cartoons that are not true. Law enforcement professionals have an extremely difficult job, now more than ever. This type of untrue and negative cartoon only does one thing: ramp up the racial tension between police and the communities that we took an oath to serve and protect.
We are left to wonder: What good does printing such an inflammatory cartoon do? And what kind of negative community response toward police are you hoping to illicit by printing it? — Todd Bramwell, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Massachusetts State Lodge
Cartoon stirs further division
In the future, please give more thought to the implications of publishing such a heinous editorial cartoon as the one by Mike Luckovich in Monday’s paper. These types of editorial cartoons may seem clever to some, but in my view only deepen the racial divide in this country while inciting more attacks on police officers. — Sean F. Flaherty, Boston