Guest columnist Lindsey Rothschild: Councilor wants to hear from local law enforcement

  • Lindsey Rothschild

Published: 1/13/2021 2:59:12 PM

The silence is deafening. I have heard nothing from local law enforcement leadership as regards to the seditious acts of Jan. 6. I did a quick Google search to see if I could find a strong condemnation statement from a police chief somewhere else in the country. I did not.

What I did find was the revelation that officers from across the country participated in the storming of the Capitol. Police unions reaffirmed their support for President Trump.

We, as a country, sat aghast and shaken as we witnessed a mob of violent and armed rioters (encouraged by President Trump) bust their way into our U.S. Capitol with an insufficient number of law enforcement officers to protect our lawmakers and our government buildings. Officer Brian Sicknick was killed and Officer Howard Liebengood, a 15-year veteran of the force, subsequently took his own life.

Yet, still nothing from law enforcement leadership. In the same week, I saw the tone deaf self-congratulatory social media posts recognizing Police Appreciation week. And with the deafening silence, I’m forced to question — do our law enforcement organizations support what happened at the Capitol? Do they not see it as the highest crime you can commit on a nation — treason? What kind of protection can we expect if we begin to see the same violence inflicted on our local government bodies?

This has been a year where we cannot deny the contrast to which law enforcement responds to those demonstrating for racial justice, pleading for the end of the senseless murdering of Black and brown people and to demand a radical restructuring of an institution that has historically inflicted violence and terror on minority populations — Black and brown people, queer people (and also, domestic violence against women is two to four times higher in the law enforcement community than in the general population.)

As an elected official, I have tried to hold all the nuances and complexities. I am a supporter of the Black Lives Movement. However, I have not called for the defunding of police; I have voted for the appropriations to the Police Department put before me in the City Council.

Yet, I support serious dialogue and action toward the breaking down of systemic racism that infects the institution of policing. I support the efforts for increased transparency and sharing of data. I support a progressive reimagining of community policing.

In our local community, I have appreciated the work of our officers and know that many of them reside here in Easthampton. They and their families are also my constituents and neighbors. My struggle has been to hold the nuances and the complexities — to support the dismantling of injustice while still acknowledging the service provided by our police department. But, now I find myself questioning — what is the position of our local police leadership?

I yearn for a law enforcement leader who can stand up and say, out of love for their institution and our country — we have a problem.

Lindsey Rothschild is an at-large city councilor in Easthampton.

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