TO THE EDITOR:
I have always been proud of the police culture embodied by the Chapel Hill Police Department. They communicate with the public and use the minimal amount of force to ensure public safety at large events such as UNC wins, Halloween festivities and breaking up large parties, etc. I thought this was the “police culture” the Chapel Hill mayor, police chief and, most importantly, citizens desire.
However, the methods employed to remove people from the former Yates Motor Company building stand in stark contrast to this tradition and should be criticized. Imagine police in riot gear and on horseback marching down the road block-by-block to clear revelers following UNC wins or Halloween celebration. I thought Chapel Hill understood that police actions of this type breed distrust, resentment and anger among the public.
We need an answer from town officials as to why the long-held traditions of communicating with the public and using minimal force to achieve police objectives were abandoned. Was there any reason to believe that the known anarchists were armed or dangerous? And if so, wouldn’t it then have been best to inform the public of this fact, tell those inside the building to leave the property and only as a last resort, with the complete agreement of the property owner, use force (much less than was used in my opinion) to remove those who chose to remain?
I have no loss of respect for the officers involved in this action, only for those who planned, authorized and defend this decision as the best available action.
The police are servants of the people, do not forget this. And please, Chapel Hill citizens, make your opinions heard to ensure we can continue to be proud of our town, not disgraced by the actions of its officials.
Chapel Hill resident
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