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DC Police Supported Women’s March; We Shouldn’t Know That

dc-police-pussy-hats

Members of the DC police wore “pussy hats” to show their support for the Women’s March. They shouldn’t have.

The Hill:

Some members of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department donned the same hats as hundreds of thousands of protesters Saturday as they worked alongside the activists.

The hats, which were made in a variety of ways with pink yarn, are beanies with two cat ears.

Participants dubbed them “pussyhats” in response to the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape of President Trump that leaked during the campaign, featuring him saying he’d grabbed women “by the pussy.” Hundreds of signs at the march referenced the comments on the tape as well.

Washingtonian reporter Benjamin Freed posted photos of police officers wearing the caps on Twitter Saturday.

Freed also first reported the trend in a Washingtonian piece published Saturday.

The hats are seen as a symbol for the march, and many of the participants made their own. According to the Washingtonian, they were also a response to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters descended upon Washington, D.C., on Saturday for the historic Women’s March on Washington.

Now, I’m supportive of the stated goals of the march. Many friends and colleagues took part in it. That the cause was appealing to many members of the DC police department is not only not surprising but encouraging. But police are supposed to be neutral protectors of the peace, not partisans.

For one thing, this bit of news takes on a whole new context now:

No arrests were made at the march.

Now, presumably, the march was peaceful. But Trump supporters now have reason to think that police might have looked the other way at acts of violence or vandalism that would have led to arrest were the marchers from a pro-Trump group.

And, indeed, the next time a pro-Trump group holds a march, they now have reason to think the DC police is on the other side.  That’s dangerous.

Moreover, such politicization of the legitimate authorities feeds into the paranoia that already characterizes the Trump administration. If the DC police is actively in opposition to him, he’s actually justified in wanting his own private security forces.

 

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Davebo says:

    And, indeed, the next time a pro-Trump group holds a march, they now have reason to think the DC police is on the other side. That’s dangerous.

    It is dangerous. It’s dangerous because of the type of people you know might be involved in a pro Trump march.

    I wonder if that’s enough justification to refuse a permit to these deplorables?

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  2. Lit3Bolt says:

    Really? You’re decrying this, and not Trump literally blowing a kiss to the FBI Director for helping him win the election? What about Sheriff Clarke declaring his hostile intent to any and all Democrats? What about the countless law enforcement Republican partisans in nearly every police department in the United States? If HRC was President would you be decrying the “danger” of them and impugn their honor and ability to serve neutrally, and say she’s justified for having her own private security force? I doubt you would be concern trolling about this issue at all.

    Your implicit insinuation that the DC police are a secret cabal of anti-Trump partisans just because a few police wore pink hats is evidence-free, as is your “new context” claim that they colluded with marchers to make no arrests. Then you spoon-feed this conspiracy claim to any Trump supporter reading your piece and preemptively condone the President for any and all uses of private security.

    Most troubling is your assertion that police should always act as stone-faced, cold, “neutral” Sturmtruppen, and not reach out in the least bit to the communities or people they are sworn to protect and serve. Maybe the DC Metro Police, the same police force that arrested 200-odd anti-Trump vandals and anarchists the DAY BEFORE THE MARCH, simply decided to switch tactics in order to get this larger crowd on its side, thus making their job far more productive and easier.

    Day 3 of Trump Presidency, when he’s being sued of violating the Emoluments clause, his NS adviser is under investigation for ties with Russia, and you’re clutching pearls over the DC police wearing pink hats.

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  3. Mikey says:

    I was with you until the last sentence. Trump isn’t justified in creating his own private Schutzstaffel even if a couple DC cops put on pink hats.

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  4. KM says:

    If the DC police is actively in opposition to him, he’s actually justified in wanting his own private security forces.

    Ah, no. No, no, no and *NO*.

    You learn to work with opposition. That’s how politics *works*. You don’t get to create your own private army/ police force/ goon squad because some cops don’t like you. Unless you think they are actively going to shoot you in the back or let someone else do it, you have no reason to doubt their professional integrity when it comes to your protection. I’ll bet everything I own there are at least 10 Secret Service people in Trump’s immediate vanity that want to pee in his coffee every morning but restrain themselves because they know their job and their feelings are separate beasts.

    More then half the country can’t stand this loser. If you use that to justify his dictatorial leanings, you’re in for a nasty shock at the result. And remember, what he does is precedent: future presidents will be allowed private security forces because someone somewhere in the police is against them. Be very careful what you wish for James, you *will* get it with this guy.

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  5. Scott says:

    You are exactly right in the same way the several San Antonio policemen were chastised for putting on “Make America Great Again” caps. Like the military, the police should be apolitical.

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  6. Pch101 says:

    I would agree that the police should remain neutral.

    Unfortunately, the Fraternal Order of Police didn’t agree, as it endorsed Trump’s presidential campaign. So it’s a little late for that.

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  7. R.Dave says:

    @Lit3Bolt: Yeah, some dipshit sheriff in Milwaukee said something incompatible with impartial policing – which is a good case study in why having directly elected law enforcement officials is a bad idea – but it’s not equivalent to widely circulated photos of cops at a nationally significant protest. I mean come on, you yourself had to go to “bizpacreview.com” for the link, and you’re chastising James for not giving it the same level of attention as a national story? That’s like alt-righters complaining that the mainstream media is focusing on the peaceful 500,000-person march in DC and ignoring the story about some guy in Tulsa (or wherever) breaking a window during the march there.

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  8. KM says:

    I’d like to for police to remain apolitical but as Pch101 pointed out, they’ve already made their choice. What norms we’ve had for decades are slowly but surely being tossed out the window.

    Furthermore, this can be seen as an extension of the “sincere beliefs in the workplace” trend, pioneered by such “luminaries” as Kim Davis and Jack Phillips. After all, conservatives have been pushing the notion that beliefs don’t just go away when one starts working so they need to be respected and protected. Granted, they were speaking of religion but the vague term “sincere belief” was used to get around the Constitutionally squeamish, meaning it could apply to political beliefs as well. Why should someone’s right to peacefully and quietly protest (wearing a hat while still doing their job) be less protected then someone refusing to do aspects of their job and get paid to whine how their rights are violated? I’d rather have a cop with a “FU Trump” button handling security then a doctor refusing to treat a patient because of “religious reasons” and starts playing substitute-the-colleague and delaying care.

    Beliefs in the workplace: not just about head-scarves, contraception and Jesus anymore.

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  9. al-Ameda says:

    Now, presumably, the march was peaceful. But Trump supporters now have reason to think that police might have looked the other way at acts of violence or vandalism that would have led to arrest were the marchers from a pro-Trump group.

    Believe me, Trump supporters would be aggrieved no matter what happened.

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  10. gVOR08 says:

    I marched in Cincinnati with 10,000 people.8,000 of them were middle class ladies. Of course the police were polite, smiling, and friendly. A few cops in DC put on hats for photos with the marchers. Whoopee fwcking shit.

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  11. gVOR08 says:

    @R.Dave: Google “sherriff david clarke”. @Lit3Bolt: isn’t nutpicking. Clarke is a pretty prominent Trump supporter. And he’s a looney toon with police power.

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  12. michael reynolds says:

    The police should be apolitical. And this is maybe the twentieth most important thing happening in politics. As PCH points out upstream, the cops have never been apolitical.

    It’s going to get a lot worse if the Man-Baby decides to start chasing undocumented people. Big city police department’s won’t support it and may find ways to obstruct it. It will be LAPD and NYPD vs. ICE. Gosh, won’t that be fun?

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  13. James Joyner says:

    @Lit3Bolt: My position on Trump has been clear for 18 months or so. I’m not making a comparison. I’m simply saying this isn’t how security forces are supposed to operate.

    @Mikey: @KM: That sentence was too oblique. I’m not saying that the wearing of pink hats justifies anything. I’m saying that it feeds into Trump’s narrative.

    @Pch101: I don’t like that practice, either, but the FOP is a trade association for police officers writ large, not a specific urban department. But I don’t think security forces ought have trade associations. I was opposed to the existence of the Association of the United States Army, for example, when I was a lieutenant because professional officers under civilian control ought not have a lobbying arm.

    @al-Ameda: Sure. But, again, let’s not feed the narrative.

    @gVOR08: I want police to be polite and friendly. I don’t want them taking sides in a political protest.

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  14. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m saying that it feeds into Trump’s narrative.

    So what? Anything feeds Trump’s narrative if he decides it does. And if it doesn’t, he’ll just make it up.

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  15. C. Clavin says:

    Before Friday I would have agreed with this post.
    After Friday everything is different.
    Being attacked by Russia is OK now.
    The FBI taking sides in elections is OK now.
    1/20/2017…the end of the free world.

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  16. Surreal American says:

    @James Joyner:

    I agree with you because the shoe could easily be on the other foot. And has:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/san-antonio-police-donald-trump_us_57fea9a7e4b0e8c198a5dfb0

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  17. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, again, let’s not feed the narrative.

    But, again, so what? You can’t do anything to affect the narrative of a lying narcissistic sociopath. The only path ahead is to do what we do and not worry about how Trump will twist it, because he will lie about anything we do no matter what.

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  18. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    I want police to be polite and friendly. I don’t want them taking sides in a political protest.

    Police have been taking sides in a political protest since forever, and 99% of the time it’s on the side of the powerful and the status quo. Police routinely engage in criminal and thuggish assaults against peaceful protesters, use force to suppress dissent, impede orderly demonstrations, etc., and I’ve never seen you once complain about that.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: I think you missed my point. It looks like in a friendly crowd a couple of cops put on hats for a few pictures. Do you or The Hill have evidence anything more substantive happened?

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  20. Rafer Janders says:

    Moreover, such politicization of the legitimate authorities feeds into the paranoia that already characterizes the Trump administration.

    Again, ANYTHING feeds into their paranoia. You can’t placate a paranoid.

    If the DC police is actively in opposition to him, he’s actually justified in wanting his own private security forces.

    Are you high? The president as president already has a security force, it’s called the Secret Service. But Donald Trump as an individual does not deserve a “private” security force that is not part of the duly constituted federal law enforcement apparatus.

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  21. Franklin says:

    I agree with others. This was indeed wrong, but there were several other related wrong things (many listed in these comments) that were arguably more or less important.

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  22. Pch101 says:

    @James Joyner:

    You’re overly concerned with “feeding Trump’s narrative.”

    Rational people need to worry about finding one another, forming alliances, maintaining their morale, and attacking the nutjobs.

    I have less than zero interest in coddling the extremists on the right. Being nice to or worried about the feelings of the nutjobs is not only a waste of time, but counterproductive.

    The far right needs to be ridiculed and attacked, without remorse. It should be difficult, uncomfortable and embarrassing to be associated with them. If you allow them to define normality and give them a monopoly on belligerence, then we will truly be screwed.

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  23. Hal_10000 says:

    James, I see your point. But I would really like cops to respond to protests like this. The very presence of riot-gear-clad cops is thought by many to incite violence. One of the awful things about the Dallas shooting was that, right before, cops had been shaking hands with BLM protesters, talking to them, posing for pictures with them. As long as they are supportive of *any* peaceful protesters, I’m fine with this.

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  24. KM says:

    @Hal_10000 :

    As long as they are supportive of *any* peaceful protesters, I’m fine with this.

    Yes. They don’t necessarily have to support the cause but rather the protesters going out and exercising their constitutional right to protest non-violently. If they pass out water, handshakes or even just smiles, it helps humanize them as protectors of civilians instead of attack dogs of the status quo. Should the protesters get violent or dangerous, I expect the police to engage with those they agree with in the same manner as those they disagree with. Police are people too with thoughts and ideas of their own but common courtesy and professionalism will go a long way in ensuring tensions stay low and everybody goes home in the same condition they left in.

    Agreeing to disagree is still a valid way of living life.

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  25. MarkedMan says:

    James I agree with you that this is inappropriate. But I also agree with the consensus here that this will have no effect on Trump and his supporters because their narrative is already fixed regardless of facts or reality. Some police forces, especially but not exclusively in the Trump states, will take his election as a thumbs up to go into full thug mode. And Trumps most extreme supporters, many of which are actual fascists, will encourage them. (That fascist label is not hyperbole, that’s what the alt-right is, by their own declared values.) My prediction is that as Trump becomes less popular, Bannon, Brietbart and various other Pepe-heads will start calling for street action not just from the cops but from the neo nazi, kkk and various other fellow travelers to rough people up. Trump will encourage them. Eventually, he will be directly calling for them on his own.

    Trump is not different by degree, he is different by type. The Republican party collapsed and gave us this monstrosity. Because they collapsed, they will exercise no oversight or pose any checks on his authoritarianism, despite having control of both houses of congress.

    We are in for a very, very bad time and, while calling out inappropriate hat wearing on the part of otherwise decent cops is ‘correct’, it is incredibly small potatoes.

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  26. reid says:

    @Rafer Janders: Indeed. It’s just like Hillary and Democrats in general having to be absolutely perfect, because every little thing they do wrong will be put under a microscope in the name of fairness. But it doesn’t matter, because Trump and Republicans in general will still have endless investigations into Benghazi and email servers; they’ll still make things up and call names to foster the narrative. That won’t stop. Hopefully the media (and, ahem, bloggers) will focus on the important things. And yes, Comey and the FBI’s role in the election, for example, is a much more important thing than this.

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  27. Gustopher says:

    I don’t have a problem with police donning the headgear, or otherwise making small displays showing support of, a protest. This is reaching out, and helping to keep the protest calm and peaceful.

    If they were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, that would be a problem at this specific protest. If they were wearing pussyhats at a pro-Trump rally, that would also be a problem. If there is a significant counterprotest, then they should refrain, or decide ahead of time that there will be some of each hat.

    The police have to be professional, and treat people with respect, first and foremost. But, they are also not the military — they are civilians, and I would rather bend a rule on political activity than distance them from the rest of the civilians.

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  28. JKB says:

    Let’s see. The most cogent theme of the march was bigger and better abortion. So the DC police were showing common cause with the indiscriminate killing of innocents who are found to be inconvenient.

    A most salient statement on the event. And America today.

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  29. C. Clavin says:

    The President has his own alternative facts.
    That’s all you need to know about America today.

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  30. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I have a comment stuck in the filter.

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  31. dennis says:

    @MarkedMan:

    My prediction is that as Trump becomes less popular, Bannon, Brietbart and various other Pepe-heads will start calling for street action not just from the cops but from the neo nazi, kkk and various other fellow travelers to rough people up. Trump will encourage them. Eventually, he will be directly calling for them on his own.

    This has precedence:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_Hat_Riot

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  32. grumpy realist says:

    @JKB: If abortion were some thing that really bugged you, you would be jumping up and down screaming how we in the US need to develop the technology for uterine replicators so women don’t get IN to the pickle of being forced to carry to term against their wills.

    So much for so-called “pro-lifers”.

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  33. C. Clavin says:

    @JKB:

    The most cogent theme of the march was bigger and better abortion.

    WTF???
    The most cogent theme of the march was not abortion…it was that the Trump Presidency should be aborted.
    If you have to lie to make your argument…then it ain’t much of an argument.

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  34. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @JKB: The young man picking up trash (I couldn’t see what was written on his hat) I commend and thank for his service. You, on the other hand, have demonstrated no particular understanding of anything you’ve ever commented on (including Austrian economics), so I take what you said as unimportant to the discussion.

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t want them taking sides in a political protest.

    I wasn’t aware that taking a position against sexual assault is a merely partisan act. My bad.

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  36. bill says:

    @Davebo: yeah, because of all those documented incidences of violent republicans and such…….lol dude. some people have lives to live and don’t feel the need to smash/loot others businesses let alone burn cop cars to voice their ineptness. then there’s liberals…..

    the most nonsensical thing about these wacky broads and their need to bring up “abortion rights” whenever they get together is that trump has never said anything about restricting the 14th. that most women have no clue is typical of the lot. my ex-wife is one of them…..has 0.0 clue that there’s an amendment that protects it and there’s no pending challenges to it. but you can’t tell her that, nor these wack jobs.

    another thing they don’t seem to realize is that there are more women than men in this country, and they were a big reason trump won. but they aren’t “real women” i guess….

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  37. An Interested Party says:

    This…

    The most cogent theme of the march was bigger and better abortion.

    …followed by this…

    The President has his own alternative facts.

    How perfect…obviously Trump isn’t the only one with his own alternative “facts”…

    another thing they don’t seem to realize is that there are more women than men in this country, and they were a big reason trump won.

    Hardly a “big reason”

    Women supported Clinton over Trump by 54% to 42%. This is about the same as the Democratic advantage among women in 2012 (55% Obama vs. 44% Romney) and 2008 (56% Obama vs. 43% McCain).

    Did you ever stop and think that there a lot of things that you don’t seem to realize…

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  38. Rick Zhang says:

    It’s just a continuation of the erosion of polite discourse, respect, and traditions associated with politics. Everything is becoming politicized. Everyone in every agency is taking sides. NPS chose the anti-Trump side, as was to be expected. DC police chose anti-Trump. Silicon Valley may be able to be bought if Trump spends enough political capital there.

    The stakes are so high now. The other side is mobilizing previously unheard of WMDs (questioning truth) and brainwashing their supporters through churches, talk radio, and Breitbart. The left is fighting back in whatever way it can. File so many lawsuits that the administration becomes embroiled in depositions more than governing.

    If Trump-supporting deplorables hate how sad their life has become and want to upset the apple cart to reshuffle their lot in life, we (as the elites) should fight back equally hard. Grind these people into dust and put them back in their place. Stakes are high. Current winners in society can’t become complacent. You have to keep fighting for the privileges and rights that you have won, otherwise the other side will seek to take them from you. Think French Revolution or the Russian Revolution. To the winners go the spoils. The losers lose their lives or livelihood. Zero-sum indeed.

    I can decry how bad things have become, but in no way will I condemn the left or elites for doing what they can given the overall climate. You can’t break the glass (as Trump has done) and then expect everyone else to keep following the rules of society.

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  39. anjin-san says:

    @ James

    Now, presumably, the march was peaceful.

    No “presumably” about it. The march was peaceful, just as those in the other cities were. Please don’t start drifting into alternative facts country.

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