On the Berkeley Protests — Two Sides, One Coin

I’ve got friends who are police officers. I’ve got friends who are protesting.

The sad truth is that cops are people who feel that any traffic stop, any domestic violence call, any confrontation could result in their death. They have countless examples to back this fear up.

The sad truth is that I am friends with black men, who have black sons, none of whom feel like they can expect the same treatment my son or I would get if confronted by police. They fear the wrong move could result in their death. They have countless examples to back this fear up.

It’s been a very long week of supporting the police and fire responses in and around the protests. It’s been a very long week of supporting my friends who want their sons to walk the same streets my kids do with the same expectation of being protected by the police.

As a Berkeley firefighter, what I know is that the Berkeley Police Department is run by good people who do a very dangerous job and want to go home to their families every night.

As a father in Oakland, what I know is that a large, law-abiding, productive population in our nation feels that they can’t be sure their sons will survive an encounter with those same police officers and come home to their families every night.

What I don’t know is how to fix it. Culture doesn’t change in a week. I live in and greatly respect both sides of the line. I hope that amid the peaceful protesters, amid the officers working to secure the streets so those protests are as safe as possible, we will find common ground. I hope that enough people like me have one foot on each side of the line because at the end of the day, we’re all people who should try shaking hands instead of shaking fists.

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