9NEWS reports on shocking accusations leveled yesterday by the Denver Police Protective Association, the union representing police officers in Denver:
The Denver police union says protestors marching against the Ferguson grand jury decision cheered and chanted "hit him again" after four officers were hit by a runaway car.
Several other police sources tell 9NEWS crime and justice reporter Anastasiya Bolton that there is evidence as well as DPD witnesses to the fact that some students cheered after the officers were struck.
The irony of police being injured while protecting students protesting against police misconduct should not be lost on anyone, including the students who were marching Wednesday when the officers were struck. With that said, there does seem to be an attempt here to discredit entirely lawful protest with an apparently unrelated and tragic accident by the police union. Even if there were a few bad-mannered students who heckled, it would be wrong to blame all the protesters, or impugn the larger reasons for protesting against police misconduct based on any such unrepresentative actions.
Especially since, as the Denver Post reports, the "evidence" referred to above doesn't appear to exist.
Although some obscenities were directed at police while they were escorting the East High School protesters, Denver Post journalists witnessed no cheering after a Mercedes hit four officers. Students who were interviewed expressed concern about the injuries. [Pols emphasis]
In its response to the union, the Denver Police Department said it could not independently confirm claims that students cheered.
"If in fact there were inappropriate actions taken by a few students Chief (Robert) White does not believe this reflects the opinions of the vast majority of protesters," according to the police statement.
Backlash from the Denver police union isn't happening in a vacuum, of course–protests around the nation over the failure to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson after the killing of African American teenager Michael Brown have been met with angry responses from police associations, including the now-famous exchange between members of the St. Louis Rams and that city's police officer's association after several Rams players took the field last weekend with their hands up in "don't shoot" protest. At least to some extent, you can't blame them: police unions are logically going to defend the honor of their members and profession at a time when both are subject to widespread questioning.
But scapegoating a few misguided students–assuming what's alleged even happened–isn't the way to do that.