Justice For Cisco shared this post by Wayne Vincent, President of the Austin Police Association. Although I can understand his message, I’m not sure if it was a good idea for him to do this, because it makes it look like the Austin PD just wants to forget what happened on April 14 (4/26 edit: actually, this is apparently really what they want to do).
The article focuses on how Austin PD is being blamed.
As we so often do on these occasions, we desperately looked for where to assign the blame. It seems we have been programmed to always believe this elusive thing called closure cannot occur until we have identified the guilty party.
The post then goes on to discuss how futile blame is. It expresses sympathy for both Mr. Paxton, Cisco’s owner, & Officer Griffith, who shot Cisco. All this is entirely reasonable to me, but I feel that it’s missing a really important component that I need for my own personal sense of closure.
I’d like to feel safe again.
Nowhere in the article is there any 1) acknowledgement of responsibility (perhaps legally there can’t be) or 2) solutions or promise to look for any. The only message given is “Stop blaming us; it’s pointless.” I don’t know how the writer can expect sympathy if that’s all he has to say. This is the closest he comes to suggesting a course of action:
Perhaps if we all support each other through this, the need to place blame will diminish.
The only “problem” the post recognizes is the placing of blame. The only solution it is looking for is how to negate the blame.
The reason why Vincent’s article is going to do nothing to mitigate the blame is because it refuses to acknowledge the reason why the blame is there in the first place. We point fingers to figure out the cause of the problem (the real problem, which was the fiasco of April 14). We say “It happened because of this. It was committed by this person.” We are identifying what went wrong.
Much of what Vincent may be interpreting as harrassment is actually citizens’ attempts at identifying what the problem is. When people angrily say that the police have no regard for the safety or well being of their community, or that cops have become power crazed, or that cops have become the bad guys, they aren’t saying it to be spiteful. They’re saying it because they believe it. Incidents like this are scary because they demonstrate how easy it is for the authorities to abuse us, & how helpless & unable to defend ourselves & our loved ones we are.
These are real, heartfelt fears. We really think these things. We are not making it up to hurt the police department’s feelings. We are expressing how scared we are, & what we think the problem is.
It’s not just a simple case of “blame.” It’s fear. I have felt afraid every day since April 14 & I don’t even live in Austin. The very principle of what happened on Michael Paxton’s driveway stretches across the ocean at me. It could happen here. It could happen anywhere in the US to anyone of us unless something changes.
For the last several days, every “bump in the night” hasn’t made me think about the bogeyman or The Ring or even the ghost story my friend just told me at lunch. It makes me think about cops. Cops are now the first thing I think of when I think I “heard something.”
I wish, instead of focusing on “it’s not our fault,” Vincent had said this:
Perhaps if we all support each other in finding ways to prevent this from happening again, the need to place blame will diminish.
Austin PD is in a unique, spotlighted position to make changes that will help all of us all over the country feel better. Find a solution. Make a real change & show us that you aren’t the bad guys, that you don’t want this to happen again either. It’s got to be more than just telling the community to stop its bitching.