Open Letter to Richmond Police from a Richmond Occupier
I was given this html letter to the RPD, and while I may not necessarily agree with every sentiment, it is relevant to the city. Photos added by me.
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*An open letter to the Richmond police department:
What a disappointing state of affairs. This wasn’t supposed to be about confrontations with you. Truthfully, we are all part of the same socioeconomic class. This has been reiterated time after time. Sure, sometimes occupiers can be assholes to police, and vice versa.
But how much can we really blame each other for that? After attempting to use every single possible legal avenue to eliminate any conflict between us, the city of Richmond – by which I mean the small group of people who make your decisions for you – has made it clear that our Constitutional expression of free speech and assembly will not be respected.
In the end, hundreds of you (not including state troopers and homeland security) are forced to spend hours that you could be home with your families protecting a public park from the presence of the public. Tens of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money is wasted on airplanes, bulldozers, fire hoses (presumably for “riot control“, though there hasn’t even been an intimation of such a riot) buses for mass arrests, etc.
And for what? Overtime pay? Don’t count on it.
No, all of this is for the expressly stated purpose of enforcing a city code about people existing in a public place after the sun goes down. Occupy Richmond extended every possible offer of negotiation and compromise with the city, and we have conducted every bit of business with complete transparency and consideration of legalities.
So when people in this movement get pissed off after you destroy two weeks worth of work and start making frivolous arrests, please keep in mind the perspective of these people. Imagine, if you will, that you are not a police officer, but a citizen deeply and passionately concerned about the state of the society you live in. In an attempt to express what you believe are constitutional rights, your government openly (and sometimes violently) confronts you with a massive armed presence.
So here we are, angry at this outrageous response by the city, and here you are, angry because you’ve been told that we’re somehow the enemy. Both occupiers and police have allowed ourselves to be distracted from the important work that needs to be done to make this country and this world better for all of our children. In the words of one of your own officers (and I’m transcribing from audio recording):
“We’re theoretically on the same team, but pitted against each other… Democrat, Republican, it doesn’t make any difference in the world. The people in power are going to keep the foot on our throat until maybe there’s some sort of wild overthrow of the government, and we all just take and burn everything to the ground.”
Regardless of this police officer’s revolutionary views, the Occupy movement has nothing to do with burning things down or overthrowing the government, nor has it ever. Richmond police certainly have no reason to view us this way, as we have always been nonviolent, and have sworn to remain so. But this officer was admirably perceptive to realize that all of us (occupiers and police) are being forced to waste ridiculous amounts of time and energy struggling against each other instead of the people and policies that are screwing over each and every one of us.
I understand that you gave up all individual decision making power in matters of law when you became a police officer. You do what you’re told. This is unfortunate for us all. I hope each and every one of you will consider the avenues available to express your concern about the well being of democracy and constitutional expression. As part of the 99%, you have always been invited to join us, and I hope that there can be an increased understanding between ALL parties that the conflict playing out between us is merely a distraction from what this movement (and ostensibly, your jobs) are about – making the world a better place.
– A Richmond Occupier
*This letter is the opinion of one person, and does not speak for the Occupy Richmond movement, which is open to all.