Lois Ahrens: Taking a knee was an empty gesture

  • Grace Coates, center, raises an arm after left Northampton Police Lt. Alan Borowski, Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper and State Trooper Mike Habel took a knee ending a long standoff between police and protesters at the Northampton police station, Monday. Gazette photo

Published: 6/2/2020 3:14:31 PM

“As the day wore on, police came out and used pepper spray to hold off the crowd so they could reenter the station.” (‘Protesters fill Northampton streets, challenge police,’ Monday’s Gazette)

Why did Police Chief Jody Kasper first order her police to use pepper spray on anti-racist protesters earlier in the day, then later attempt so-called solitary with them by “taking a knee?” This looks to me like the equivalent of President Donald Trump holding the Bible in front of St. John’s Church in Washington. A photo op. An empty gesture.

Where is the question to Kasper about why she ordered police to use pepper spray on protesters? Who was pepper-sprayed? Where is the interview with them? Instead, just below the article on the protest, there is another laudatory article (“Our work is far from done”) about what work Kasper is doing. One more article justifying the bloated Northampton police force just in time for this week’s debate on the fiscal 2021 budget and the mayor’s request for an additional nearly $200,000 for policing.

The police need to be defunded. Millions now going to the police need to be redirected toward community created and controlled programs and services that do not involve police and policing. This is the moment to begin.

Lois Ahrens


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