From Really Free Carrboro
This Saturday, at 2 pm, hundreds of people will converge at Carrboro’s Town Commons to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of the Carrboro Really Really Free Market. This event has been promoted for months and will surely draw some of Orange County’s most progressive and community-minded residents.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue has chosen this Saturday, at 2 pm, to hold a “Question and Answer Session” on the other side of town about why he believes it is necessary for the Chapel Hill Police Department to own and utilize military-style heavy weaponry.
This is no abstract question for Chief Blue. In November 2011, he ordered a military-style raid in the middle of downtown Franklin Street, sending men with loaded assault rifles to threaten and arrest peaceful demonstrators and passersby in response to the occupation of the long-disused Yates Building. This police raid generated tremendous controversy, provoking widespread outcry and several protest marches: for once, the systemic violence of the police, which is usually only obvious to the disenfranchised, was front and center in public discourse.
Even in this situation, Chief Blue never acknowledged any error. We can only conclude that military-style raids in which armored officers point assault rifles at passersby are part of his vision of appropriate policing in Chapel Hill. Ferguson is not so far away after all: if this is how he responds to protests on Franklin Street, how much more brutally will these weapons be used against poor people and people of color, those on the receiving end of most of the violence of the police?
Chief Blue is not invested in creating a real space for critical dialogue. He only wishes to create the appearance of dialogue in order to free his hand to utilize potentially deadly force against Orange County residents again in the future. Why else would he schedule his Question and Answer Session to coincide with a community event involving many people who would otherwise confront him for endangering lives in 2011?
Police Chief Blue does not care about the input of Chapel Hill residents—or about our lives. Scheduling his presentation to take place precisely when those who have experienced his style of policing firsthand are absent is worse than disingenuous. There is just one word for it: cowardice.