Lately the internet has been filled with stories about hatred for the police — everything from Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests to the horrific cop killings in recent days. If you had emerged from a bunker this week and picked up a newspaper or fired up the internet, you’d be certain all Americans were at war with the police — and the police with Americans. In fact, that’s the message the vocal BLM moment wants you to hear and embrace: The cops are the enemy. They’re pure evil. They’re criminals who must be eradicated from civil society (of course if that happens, we won’t have a civil society anymore, but let’s not get too caught up in the details here).
However, if you were lucky enough to emerge from your bunker somewhere around the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland this week, you’d have a completely different view of the police in America. Here, at the Republican National Convention, the police are the heroes of the story. Everywhere you go, whether it’s inside the security perimeter or out, you’ll find people thanking law enforcement officers for keeping them safe. People thank the police for waving them across the street, for directing them to the right queue for security, and even for searching through their bags before entering the venue.
I had dinner on Wednesday in the outdoor seating area at the House of Blues. All sorts of people, from Hare Krishnas, to Westboro cultists, to Black Lives Matter protesters, were parading up and down the narrow thoroughfare in front of the restaurant. Every so often a contingent of officers would walk by and everyone in the area would cheer. At first I thought these were celebrity sightings until I realized who was on the receiving end of these (very appropriate) expressions of gratitude.
The House of Blues must have been offering free drinks for cops (as a lot of restaurants this week are) and I saw a lot of them going in and out while I was eating. The bouncer at the door hugged each and every one of them as they entered the restaurant.
I’ve seen police officers here from all over the country, including a large contingent from the California Highway Patrol, and without exception, they’ve done their jobs professionally and without complaining, and it’s clear that people visiting the RNC are grateful. There’s a beautiful vibe here in Cleveland this week and I hope and pray that the kindness shown to them by strangers brought some healing to them after a long difficult couple of weeks for their profession.