Today is the 51st anniversary of Ohio National Guardsman shooting dead four unarmed students at Kent State. Eleven other kids were injured.
Although the President’s Commission on Campus Violence equivocated and blamed both Guardsmen and students, it did finally conclude that “the indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted, and inexcusable.”
It was murder, pure and simple, though the US justice system refused to press charges against the Guardsmen. After all, as Nixon himself said just a few days before the massacre, student protesters were just bums.
Lest we forget.
A week or so ago, the Vancouver School Board voted to end the participation of uniformed police officers in “school liaison” programs. It was a decision with which I thoroughly agree.
There was, as you might imagine, a Twitter storm about the decision, with many people complaining that these officers did the vital work of mentoring our children, often acting as coaches. It was, some said, a “disgusting” decision.
But none of these complainers asked themselves the question: why should police officers take up this role? What value do they have that, say, accountants or lawyers or nurses or plumbers or doctors don’t have in the role of mentors and coaches?
People may not like this, but the fact is that for many people, including our children, regardless of the other good work they may do, the police have become representatives of the negative armed and oppressive authorities in our society. Every week, our media is filled with stories of police officers killing unarmed civilians, or using massive state power to put down legitimate protest. In such a world, police liaison officers are nothing more than public relations practitioners.
I ask again: why cannot lawyers or doctors or electricians or shop managers or housewives be mentors without the negative connotations connected to police work?
Bravo to the VSB for this decision.