December 16, 2014

This has to be the most surreal interview ever aired on Chris Hayes' show. Guest host Ari Melber interviewed Jeffrey Follmer, head of the police union for Cleveland police.

While I understand that union officers are bound by duty to defend their members, it would have been better for Follmer not to to have given this interview at all, because he certainly did not make anything better.

After demanding an apology from Cleveland Browns football players for supporting the families of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, Follmer appeared on Hayes' show to explain why he thinks an apology is due.

The video leaves no doubt that police were right.

That is Follmer's argument, plain and simple. He sees no room for any argument. They were right, and Tamir Rice was wrong. Why was Rice wrong? Because police thought he was 20, not 12.

Let's unpack that for a minute. Ohio is an open carry state. The minimum age to open carry is 21, not that far off from 20. Is Follmer really trying to claim with a straight face that they shot Tamir Rice in a 2-second timeframe while he did not have a gun in his hand because they thought he was older rather than younger?

Seems to me the argument in support of Rice's family gets stronger and the police argument gets weaker if they believe he's older than he actually was, simply because there's no way to discern whether someone is 20 or 21 visually, and certainly not in 2 seconds.

Follmer's absolutism was hard to watch. It was quite similar to what you might imagine that fascist state so feared by gun nuts would produce. No room for argument, no room for doubt, just buck up and accept that police never, ever make mistakes.

Oh, and little people, Follmer has some advice for you. Just stop and obey everything, no matter how right you are because really, you're just flat-out wrong. If you do that, you live. If you dare to question anything, you die.

In Tamir Rice's case, he never had a chance to stop, freeze, obey or grimace. Two seconds is not long enough for Rice to react nor police to properly assess, no matter what Follmer says.

I'm all for due process, but enough with the bullying from police union leaders. If they're so sure they're right, then why shovel it onto the public without even a debate?

After you watch this interview, go read Andrew Hawkins' thoughtful rebuttal to requests for apologies and explanation for why he did it.

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