More than a week ago, anti-police graffiti was found in Ives Park in Potsdam.
The letters “ACAB” were painted on several fixtures. They stand for “all cops are bastards.”
In a wise move, Mayor Reinhold J. Tischler issued a news release condemning the vandalism on behalf of other village officials. His statement reads as follows:
“In recent days, the village of Potsdam has responded to several reports of graffiti marring our shared public spaces. Troublingly, these tags included anti-policing messaging that we as a village find unacceptable. No matter the underlying message, though, we have any number of ways for our citizens to express your views — taking part in public demonstrations, speaking in meetings, writing letters and serving on committees, to name just a few. Leaving permanent ink on our treasured community facilities does not lead to any meaningful discourse. We continue to believe as a village that Black Lives Matter and will not let these incidents deter us from doing our part to unify our community. We do, however, take the defacement of public and private property very seriously and ask for the community’s help in finding the perpetrator(s) and reporting any graffiti promptly should you find it.”
It was good for Mr. Tischler to get out ahead of this disturbing incident with his statement. He reflected the sentiments of most in the village who find such a vulgar comment appalling.
It’s also good that representatives of Black Lives Matter Potsdam issued a statement of their own:
“BLM Potsdam, NY takes appropriate and positive actions to making good change in St. Lawrence County. So anyone supporting the changes we seek for black and brown lives is expected to also take appropriate actions and positive actions to making good change. Messing up property here is not going to have a positive outcome to the messages that BLM Potsdam, NY is fighting for black and brown lives every day. Use your voice; use your power; it’s within each of us. It’s how we use it that matters.”
It’s unfortunate that demonstrations opposing the deaths of Black Americans by police officers for very dubious reasons have become so divisive. For many people, it’s created a false choice between advocating for justice for Black people and supporting members of the law enforcement community.
This tension doesn’t have to exist. There are no contradictions in working to ensure equal justice for all and promoting a supportive environment for police officers across the country.
The Black Lives Matter movement is calling for necessary reforms in law enforcement, and this is appropriate. We should all work together to bring about positive changes that will address concerns about more perilous practices while highlighting what’s best about our police community.
We don’t know who left the graffiti in Ives Park or why this vandalism occurred. Whatever the motivation, expressing such public statements about police officers is egregious. They put their lives on the line every moment of every day to ensure our safety.
We’re pleased that village officials and Black Lives Matter Potsdam share common ground on the need to respect police officers and strive to make constructive endeavors. This mutual mindset is what will help bring about needed reforms while enabling members of our police departments to carry out their duties in the most effective manner possible.