At the Sacramento protest over the weekend, there were 33 arrests for lawfully assembling against Governor Newsom’s lockdown orders. As disappointing as it was to watch people arrested for participating in non-violent, perfectly legal and protected activity, one incident went largely unnoticed that should give you hope, especially after seeing so many stories of police behaving badly during the lockdown.
When police showed up in riot gear holding batons to intimidate the crowd full of moms and kids and peaceful Americans, Dr. Cordie Lee Williams, a United States Marine vet, took his bullhorn and spoke to them in a way only another man who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution can. What happened after that is nothing short of stunning.
“In the face of tyranny, in the face of freedom, are you going to sit there in your riot gear against peaceful protesters or are you going to say, ‘You know what? It’s time to stand up for my country. I took the oath of office and it said I will defend [against] all enemies both foreign and domestic,'” Williams began. “I know you’re doing your job, but I’d rather lose my job than lose my soul,” he said. “What are you going to go tell your little girl or your little boy tonight? That you took a baton and you crushed somebody’s skull that was a mom? Is that what a tough guy does? That’s not what honor, courage, and commitment means in the Marine Corps.”
Williams then gave the officers a refresher course on the Constitution. “What’s a lawful order?” he asked. “When you’re given an order you’ve got to say, ‘Is this a lawful order, or is this a bullsh*t order?’ When something is a bullsh*t order and it doesn’t pass the sniff test, that’s when you say, ‘Sergeant,’ that’s when you say, ‘Colonel,’ that’s when you say, ‘General,’ that’s when you say ‘Governor, I’m not doing that. I didn’t sign up for that!’ That’s what it takes.”
Williams continued, “I want every one of you to do a gut check right now. And there’s guys over there that are lieutenants and there’s political games happening right now…but now is the time for you to decide. What side of history you want to be on?” At this point, the crowd cheered loudly. “There’s some of you here who are going to hit somebody…and that’s going to be on your conscience”. Williams referred to an earlier detainment of a pastor who police threw to the ground unnecessarily.
“I get that you’re just doing your jobs, but your job right now is to do a gut check,” Williams chided. “Your job right now is to say is this ethical, and moral? And if it’s immoral and unethical you don’t follow that order. It’s not constitutional,” he said with conviction. “I talked to my Master Sergeant yesterday…if he was a law enforcement officer he wouldn’t be standing here with a baton in his hand right now. He’d be standing up to the people who were telling him to stand with a baton in his hand right now,” Williams continued to hearty cheers and applause. “What would it look like if you all called in sick the next time they told you to do this?”
Williams continued in this manner, even inviting the police there to take off their helmets and join the crowd for a beer. Then he pulled out some Bible teaching and lectured them on the fruits of the spirit. “If you want to throw me down, I’m a tough guy and I can take it. I won’t resist because I’m here in peace and love,” he said. “We are going to pray for you guys tonight and we’re going to pray for your families,” he said. “We’re going to pray that God nudges you and shows you that this is bullsh*t, that this is wrong.” One by one the riot police began to walk away until the entire line turned and stood down. While Coleman acknowledged that the police may have left for another reason, he declared, “but we’ll call it a win anyway.”
It was an amazing moment and a welcome sign that maybe our police just need to be reminded to do a gut check when they receive their orders these days. Thank you, Dr. Williams. Someone had to say it.