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As I See It

Why aren’t we more consistent at how we respond to protests?

Scott Robert Shaw



Protests are nothing new in the United States. But it seems clear we still aren’t very good at determining how to deal with them. After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests began. They quickly turned violent, and police in Minneapolis tried a variety of tactics to deal with them. Initially, police backed off entirely, even as one of their precincts was torched. By Saturday, the police presence was much higher, as was their willingness to engage. Reporters were arrested live on camera, others were shot with rubber bullets. Those engaged in peaceful protests were pepper-sprayed. Other cities where protests broke out employed even different tactics. In New York, police drove their SUV into a crowd of people. In other cities, police chiefs and sheriffs marched along with protesters. But which of these police protocols are actually the most effective? Surely that has been studied from past protests. Shouldn’t there be some sort of playbook that outlines just how police should respond when protests begin, and how that should change when those protests turn violent. It seems that despite our nation’s long history of protests, peaceful and otherwise, we haven’t really learned a lot along the way.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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    June 1, 2020 at 9:02 am

    I am sure that you must realize not all situations are alike and not all communities have identical demographics and not all societies are are identical to past historical settings. How could you possibly relate what happened back in our fight for independence and the protests then to what is happening now? You need to deal with each situation in the context in which it takes place. Which means what may have worked or not worked in past history may or may not work today. There is not a one size fits all as to how to respond to protesting. You also need to know the entire story not just some of the story. If you listened to the police commissioner of NY, he told how police cars were being stopped and surrounded and then trying to be set on fire and police officers dragged from their vehicles. He then asked the CBS interviewer, if that was you in the police car how would you respond. We are not being told all the stories of what is going on. Without all the background information you cannot make a judgment on them driving their vehicles into the the barrier. How can you say with the long history of protests in our country we should have learned how to deal with it better by now? I believe you are looking for too simplistic an answer to a much more complex problem. The real problems lies much deeper and is in the hearts of people of our society. You need to change the people in order to change solve the problem. Getting away from a biblical standard for right and wrong and going to what society feels is right has not produced a better society. If you doubt it just look at our society today.

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