By Cornelia Seigneur

There have been so many interesting developments and comments and ideas over the past 10 days  that my original post, “Where’s a police officer to get a cup of coffee?” went viral. It is amazing the power of the pen in sharing a story. And people are running with it.

Officer Crooker and I spoke today for the first time since we met May 18, and said the support has been amazing, from both Portlanders and beyond. People have donated coffee cards to him and fellow policemen, and he is grateful for the encouragement. He is getting calls from the East Coast to speak of his experience. Everyday folks are striking up conversations with police which they might not have happened in the past. The dialogue. The conversation. That is what I am liking to hear. People have asked me for links to national coverage and other media outlets which have covered the story so I am writing this blog post as a quick reflection. Here are some highlights and links as well as featured comments on my original blog and follow up worth talking about:

** An independent film maker made a documentary of his experience dressing as a Police officer and walking into the Red and Black to get coffee. They did not serve him.  It will be featured this Saturday.  You have got to see this clip – I am hoping to do a story on him. SUNDAY June 13 UPDATE – A segment of his experience was on YouTube as you may have seen on this blog post,  but was removed by the creator, so I removed the link.  I am looking to find out why.

** CNN covered the story.

** Fox news covered

** The Oregonian has covered various developments of the story,  including this week’s press conference with the red and black trying to explain its anarchist views.

** All the major news channels in Portland have covered it and came out to interview me for the story.

** The Red and Black had a news conference to explain what they believe:

** Other local news outlets have written about the incident and/or posted links to the story.

** Radio programs have made the topic a part of their shows, including national ones. The local ones I was interviewed for include: Paul Linnman, Bob Miller, Mark and Dave, and Victoria Taft.

** AP has picked up the story as has Roseburg news.

As I have been stating all along, my hope in writing my original blog post and consecutive ones is to keep the dialogue open on all sides. I want to move the conversation forward, to educating the public on what the police do as well as to listening to the public’s concerns about misuse of police power. There are obvious strong opinions on both sides, and we need to listen to one another and quit name calling. That is a problem on a blog which allows anonymous comments. I should have asked people to give me their names and cities. I bet they would be more careful as I know I am if people know me.

Since we are getting close to 300 comments from across the country on just the first blog post, it is hard to sift through them for readers. So, I thought I would highlight a few of them, people who have written very interesting notes, and that are moving the dialogue to actual open minded discussion.

One note: Not all vegans hate police. In fact, someone pointed out that the red and black is first and foremost anarchist, second vegan.

Here is a sampling of a few comments that I appreciated:

POLICE OFFICER IN SAN ANTONIO:“…As a vegan of 12 years, I find the story particularly interesting. I live in San Antonio, where there is only one vegetarian restaurant. If they asked me to leave where would I eat?? Fortunately, the staff there is very friendly and I can’t imagine being asked to leave! I go there on duty and off duty and they all know what I do. On particularly busy days, they’ll even pack a lunch for me =)  It’s called Green. If you or your daughter ever find yourselves in San Antonio, the food there is pretty good and they are officer friendly. Of course, the sad truth is that there are officers who are mirror images of this business owner. Officer Crooker was right in that education is the only way to solve the problem. A lot of officer comments have been defensive (“let’s see what happens if they should ever need our services”…) but the only way to start bridging the gap is to educate ourselves also. We should go out of our way to provide everyone with exceptional customer service – especially those who have a negative opinion of us.”

ATS COMMENT: “Both sides have valid points, and I know that this can be a heated discussion. Simple fact is that the guy did have the right to throw the officer out. I disagree with his opinion, and I think that he grossly generalized a group of people, but he does have the right. I also agree that it promotes an atmosphere of misunderstanding to lump this officer in with the bad occurrences that have happened recently and that many people today do not understand just what these officers go through. Also I find many of the comments written here to be very ignorant of the human condition. Corruption and abuse of power is something that this country was built to fight against. It is our duty to be vigilant against power-happy public officials. But to take the shootings and simply cry “we need anarchy” is school-yard mentality. History shows that any time there was anarchy; it wasn’t long before the people BEGGED for a dictatorship. That’s how bad it gets when people realize that they have no security. To think that we don’t need the police is idealistic nonsense and has no place in the universal truths of cause and effect. Get your nose out of the books and see what real life is like. Also, you’re too hateful with some of your comments. If you can’t filter your prejudice, than your point is moot and you should shut up and sit down so the grownups can talk.”

FROM S. WELLS:  “The conversation here for Portlanders is what do you stand for?  Do you stand for  acceptance, diversity,  justice, kindness, and all the other phrases that come to mind when thinking about a progressive, modern city which is known as being “different”…or  better yet “weird”?  Do we want to be weird because we discriminate, are mean spirited,  hateful, and do not embrace all peoples, or do we want to be different because we epitomize acceptance…no matter who or what you are?
My personal opinion of most policeman…and I have lived in many large and small cities, have traveled extensively, is that most are your friends.  Of course that is the way I approach everyone,  no matter how they are dressed, what color they are, what profession they have, or what nationality.  I don’t just talk the talk of non-discrimination, I actually live it.    That’s what I loved about Portland…we are committed to the practice of what we preach in the area of diversity.  Hopefully, this will instill in everyone a new perspective on that commitment.

FROM DEETROIT POLICE OFFICER RICK- I’ve been a police officer for 11 years. In Detroit. I have never heard of anything like this happening here, but given the tensions that abound here it wouldn’t surprise me. All one can do if placed into this situation is respond professionally (and at the same wonder if there is a hidden agenda behind the request to vacate a protective presence from a specific location). However, the primary reason that I posted a response was to address something far more ridiculous. In all my years as a law enforcement officer (or, Pig, if it suites you), I have never been exposed to any secret plot. I have never been “read-in” on any secret plan, and have never been a member of any type of super-secret unit, although I have been on many task forces and special project missions. Most of the time we pigs are given the mushroom treatment (kept in the dark and fed a lot of sh$t), and we seldom have time to do anything but respond to 911 calls and do the resultant paperwork. Good God, do I wonder where these conspiracy theories come from. Come on people. This has got to stop. Contact your local law enforcement department and schedule yourself some “ride-along” or “observation” time. You’ll never really get it unless you do it.
FINALLY, along the same lines as the Detroit police officer: FROM GINA: [and what I am going to do next then write about it:]
“I like to think of myself as an open minded person.  I have had the opportunity to go on a ride along with a local police officer and all I have to say to all of the people that protest against law enforcement is go on a ride along first and then you can make an informed decision about police officers.  Not knowing what they deal with on a daily basis and judging them based on partial information is idiotic.
As far as the red and black is concerned the sad part is if something happens and they call the police,  the PPD  will still do their job in a professional manner and assist them in any way they could.  Hopefully this is a wakeup
call to all of us.”

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