The nation seems to have turned on the law enforcement officers of this country overnight as protests and demonstrations morphed into riots and a demand to end police departments. As leaders of major American cities, members of Congress and entire city councils have called to either abolish police or gut their budgets, the men and women in blue have bravely continued to do their best to keep people safe.
Protester and rioters, who have gathered en masse in cities and towns across the nation for more than a month, attack officers, light their equipment on fire, and even shoot at the police with near impunity as mayors and governors applaud.
“Don’t be afraid of democracy,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) famously said to President Trump at the beginning of a weeks long occupation in the center of her city. Several people were shot and two teens were killed in that zone after protesters blocked the police from entering while calling them “pigs” and insisting they be eradicated.
Now, after weeks of being spit on, chided, and degraded by elected officials, one police department is fighting back.
The Los Angeles Police Department, a force of nearly 10,000 officers as of 2018, has been participating in planned walk outs and call outs that have been dubbed as the “Blue Flu.” Though the LAPD has a checkered past full of budget problems, decades of corruption, and political upheaval, never before have they faced such a tremendous opponent forged by the very people they vowed to protect and the leaders they voted for to support them. After the Los Angeles City Council voted to suck $150 million from their budget, amid overtime freezes and a public cry for them to be abolished, an unsigned letter began circulating throughout the rank and file.
(Explicit Language Warning)
“They succeeded in defunding the police; what do you think is next? Our pay? Our benefits? Our pensions? You’re G– D— right all those things are in jeopardy now,” the letter said. “We have to send the city a clear message that we are not expendable and we are not going to take this crap anymore.”
More than 300 officers called out sick over the Fourth of July weekend, as crime spiked in Los Angeles and in cities across the country. The massive uptick in call outs for the besieged officers follows another unofficial work stoppage in Los Angeles when officers called out for over 700 shifts within the LA transit system.
In response to the letter, entire anti-gang units reportedly called out this weekend in certain parts of the city. The LAPD, just like police departments across the country, has become the target of critiques who claim there is a disproportionate amount of police brutality incidents targets at Black Americans.
Data, however, shows that the LAPD participates in a stunningly low number of violent encounters, opening fire on only 26 suspects in 2019. Of those shooting incidents, 12 people were killed. Since the unrest began and police in the City of Angels have faced pay cuts, villainization, and castigation from their own city, crime has spiked to levels not seen in decades. Homicides have increased by 250 percent, sending chilling reminders to older residents of the type of bloody violence the city had previously been engulfed in.
More than 500 people were killed in Los Angeles County in between June 2019 and July 1 of this year, including several teens and children in the very neighborhoods protesters claim to be targets of police brutality.
Officers have no choice but to take matters into their own hands as they have been painted into a corner by protesters, popular culture, and every elected voice of power. It seems in Los Angeles, the only defense of the police department they can hope for will be after the people of the city realize what life would be like if they got their wish and abolished the guardians of safety from their neighborhoods.
Author: Ellie Bufkin