The war on law enforcement is epidemic. Every aspect of culture has been infected. The anti-police disease is highly contagious and rapidly spreading on social media, in memes, in movements, in popular fast food restaurants, at football games, on campuses, in media and in every aspect of American culture.
An epidemic is defined as the rapid spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time. Colin Kaepernick is the Typhoid Mary of the anti-police epidemic. Kaepernick refuses to stand while the U.S. national anthem is being performed at the start of NFL games as a protest against alleged racial injustice and police brutality. On Sept. 1 Kaepernick chose to kneel on one knee as his protest gesture instead of just sitting on the bench. His explanation for his decision to switch is that it was an attempt to show more respect to former and current U.S. military members. As if kneeling is somehow symbolically less offensive than sitting. He misinterpreted the meaning of the military expression, ‘take a knee’ which occurs when troops take a pause before continuing their mission. Similar to ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’ the anti-police gesture has been imbued with a trendy righteousness regardless of its original meaning. The media reverently refers to Kaepernick’s protest as ‘Taking a Knee’ as if it is some kind of sacred act. There are no headlines that read ‘Kaepernick Disses the Flag’ or ‘Kaepernick Takes a Crap on his Country’. Just in case his gesture didn’t send a clear enough message, Kaepernick also uses clothing to symbolize his anti-police sympathies. He has worn everything from t-shirts honoring the militant Black Panther Party to socks that depict police as pigs. In addition to numerous other crimes the Black Panther Party was responsible for the murder of at least 15 officers and originated the expression ‘Off the Pigs’ meaning murder police.
Like the typhoid infected cook Mary Mallon, Kaepernick is rapidly spreading the anti-police pathogen. In what has been dubbed the ‘Kaepernick Effect’ dozens of NFL and WNBA players have knelt, sat, or raised a fist during the national anthem. The disease has also spread to over 50 high schools, 35 colleges, and one middle school. In what can only be described as a bizarre symbolic contradiction there were two incidents where women performing the Star Spangled Banner got down on one knee in protest of what they were singing. One of the women, Denasia Lawrence, not only kneeled while performing the anthem but also opened her jacket to display a Black Lives Matter t-shirt exposing Miami Heat fans to the contagious disorder.
Rapid spread is well known for infectious diseases. The anti-police disorder also contaminated the Navy. An unidentified sailor assigned to the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Pensacola, Florida, filmed herself deliberately not standing for the National Anthem and posted it on Facebook. She remained seated and raised a fist during morning colors and then praised Colin Kaepernick. Another sailor Petty Officer 2nd Class Janaye Ervin, an intelligence specialist in the Navy Reserve, stationed at Pearl Harbor, did not stand for the national anthem while in uniform. She also posted a statement on Facebook saying she was inspired by Colin Kaepernick. The Navy acted decisively. She lost her security clearance and may be facing jail in response to her actions. It is yet to be known if facing real consequences will contribute to curing the virus or accelerating it.
Kaepernick is just one carrier of the anti-police disease. The source of the infection can be attributed to specific movements such as Black Lives Matter that originated in Florida during the Trayvon Martin protests. The disease went airborne in Ferguson, Missouri where it was transmitted to college students, professional protesters and journalists who subsequently spread the disorder to towns and cities across the country. Currently the disease seems to cluster around populations that are susceptible to antipolice propaganda. The symptoms are irrationality, excessive anger, impaired perception, anxiety, hatred and delusions of oppression. Acute symptoms include sudden changes in behavior, aggression, paranoia, loss of control and homicidal and suicidal tendencies. All indicators are expressed in severe disrespect for law and order.
Early symptoms of the antipolice epidemic have been observed in various cultural manifestations of contempt for law enforcement officers. Anti-police graffiti is a common symptom of the virus. Writing has escalated from insults such as ‘police are murderers’ to threats of violence. A recent popular indicator is the expression ‘Kill Cops’ and related variations such as ‘Kill All Police’, ‘Save A Life, Kill a Cop’, ‘Cops Lives Don’t Matter’ and ‘Shoot Cops’. Threats are also depicted in images such as guns to officers’ heads. Violent anti-police rhetoric has also been seen in protest signs that read ‘All My Heroes Kill Cops’, ‘Put Wings on Pigs’ [Kill Cops] and ‘Cops Under Control Or Cops Under Flowers’. Disturbingly, anti-police graffiti, protests and tweets increase after officers are murdered signifying that violence against cops is celebrated and glorified.
The anti-police epidemic has also spread to well-known fast food restaurants. Employees have refused to serve officers at a Taco Bell in Phenix City, AL; Dunkin Donuts in West Hartford, CT; Krispy Kreme in Columbia, SC; IHOP in Virginia Beach, VA; Arby's in Pembroke Pines, FL; Chuck E. Cheese in Bowling Green, KY; Whataburger in Lewisville, TX; McDonalds in Brenham, TX; Chipotle in Brooklyn, NY; Genghis Grill in Dallas, TX; Noodles & Company, in Alexandria, VA; Tropical Smoothie in Winter Haven, FL; Lucky’s Teriyaki, Sedro-Woolley, WA and at the Krystal Restaurant in Irondale, AL. Other incidents involved employees refusing to let an officer use the restroom in a Philadelphia Starbucks, refusing service at a Sunoco gas station in Miramar, FL, writing Black Lives Matter on an officer’s coffee cup at a Dunkin Donuts in Providence, RI and a Walmart Bakery in McDonough, GA refusing to bake a cake for a police officer’s retirement party. These are just the incidents that have been made public.
Refusing service at a restaurant goes beyond gestures of disrespect. Law Enforcement officers are concerned that instead of simply being denied service that their food will be tampered with. For this reason, many officers will only eat at restaurants where they can see the food being made. This is a legitimate concern. On Aug 23, 2016 in Louisville, KY five police officers were denied service at a Taco Bell. When another employee took their orders, they overheard a conversation between two employees making the food saying, “I'm going to mess with them,” which resulted in them walking out of the restaurant. When officers have to fear what is being put in their food there can be no doubt that the war on police is a full-scale epidemic.
The anti-police infection went viral on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks have hundreds of anti-police pages ridiculing, disrespecting and threatening officers. Protests and riots are organized on social media and some users openly advocate and celebrate the killing of police officers. The following are examples of popular hashtags: #FTP (Fuck The Police), #BlueLivesMurder, #ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards), #BlueLivesDontMatter, #FuckCops, #FuckThemAll, #APDK (All Police Dept. Killer), #FryEmLikeBacon, #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #MilwaukeeUprising and #Kaepernick.
As the disease progresses, more acute symptoms begin to manifest in acts of violence. A particularly offensive indicator of the disorder is the desecration of fallen officer memorials. Memorials honoring officers killed in the line of duty have been attacked in Philadelphia, Chicago, Albuquerque, Fresno, Denver, New Orleans, Oakland, Austin, Honolulu, Rochester, San Diego, St. Paul, Covington, Richmond, Goshen, Fayetteville, Raleigh and many other cities across the country. Vandalism has involved everything from dousing in paint, toppling and scratching granite, burning, to destroying a metal torch in order to extinguish the eternal flame. In a previous article, I described these acts as symbolic assassinations. Vandals target tributes to heroic officers because they want to appropriate the valor, honor and respect that they think they have been deprived of. This is another symptom of the anti-police disease. A sense of entitlement and resentment that leads to both symbolic and actual attacks on law enforcement officers.
At its most critical stage the anti-police disorder is lethal. This is expressed in the dozens of ambushes and killings of police officers. In the most acute phase of the disease some of those infected become homicidal and suicidal targeting and killing officers knowing that they will die in the incident. A pattern has emerged that clearly demonstrates that attacks on police escalate from protest gestures to acts of vandalism to deadly shootings that inspire further demonstrations in a continual cycle of protest and violence. Consequently, Kaepernick’s gesture is neither benign nor harmless. It is one symptom in a deadly epidemic.