Certain Nashville activists will continue their “defund the police” rhetoric despite the bravery that law enforcement officers displayed before and after last week’s explosion downtown, said Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood.
As reported, a massive Christmas Day explosion damaged at least 41 businesses on Second Avenue and collapsed one building. Nashville Mayor John Cooper praised six uniformed Metro Nashville Police officers who he said saved several lives after they determined that a parked RV in that area was about to detonate.
Smallwood said that people, though, will always have agendas.
“We see a lot of politically-driven agendas, and because of those politically-driven agendas — like our revolving door criminal justice system — in Nashville over the last year we have seen more than a 36 percent spike in crime and that’s horrible,” Smallwood told The Tennessee Star Tuesday.
“While I would love to say that [what happened last week] will stop the rhetoric and the hate against law enforcement I don’t think that it will get in the way of people’s agendas.”
As reported earlier this year, left-wing activist Justin Jones, during a rally for George Floyd, asked Cooper to his face if he would “commit to demilitarize the police department and defund the police department.”
Jones seemed disappointed when Cooper declined to say if he would.
Jones said on his Facebook page this week that last week’s bombing and the actions that law enforcement took to save lives will not prompt him to alter his message.
“I’ve noticed some who seek to use this tragedy to promote the ideology of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ and pro-policing,” Jones wrote.
“While we’re grateful for the actions of the individual officers, this doesn’t negate a key lesson of this year that our overall system of policing is still harmful.”
As reported in June, members of the grassroots coalition that campaigned for Nashvillians to create the Metro Community Oversight Board compared the idea of defunding police to some of history’s greatest civil rights accomplishments. As of Tuesday, members of that group, Community Oversight Nashville, have not commented on last week’s bombing on its Twitter feed.
As reported last summer, the group Teens For Equality gathered in significant numbers to protest at Nashville’s Bicentennial Capitol Mall Park on July 4. They gave speeches, marched and chanted about their contempt for law enforcement.
Teens for Equality chanted “Brick-by-brick. Wall-by-wall. Metro PD has got to fall.” and “Take it to the streets to fight the police. No justice. No peace.”
At one point, the protestors chanted either “f*** the police” or “defund the police,” although the distinction was unclear.
Teens for Equality have not updated their Twitter feed since August.
Smallwood said events such as these take a toll.
“It wears on morale. You are away from your family. You are not able to get the time to decompress that you need, and then you see other issues like pay and benefits. Officers and their families are second-guessing whether this is the right career for them. Their spouses or their boyfriends or girlfriends are asking them if this is something they want to do for the rest of their lives,” Smallwood said.
“We are seeing people leave the profession because of the challenges they are facing and the rhetoric that is out there. Seeing people come out and show their support for law enforcement is huge. As much as I hate that [last week’s] event was the catalyst for that, maybe folks will understand that law enforcement is ready to stand on the line between good and evil and protect the communities that they love. That might round the corner on the morale deficiency.”
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