Letters: Feb. 9, 2023


Uniforms and guns at POP noms meeting

This week I submitted a complaint against Boulder police officers who appeared at the Jan. 19 City Council meeting, armed and in uniform, to oppose appointments to a board that is intended to provide oversight of the police on behalf of the community. Their conduct at this meeting was in clear violation of both Boulder Police Department (BPD) policies and procedures and the City’s Code of Conduct.

The BPD policies and procedures manual specifically states that police officers are not allowed to “identify themselves as being affiliated with the Boulder Police Department in order to … [e]ndorse, support, oppose or contradict any social issue, [or] cause …”. The need for independent oversight of the police to prevent abuses of power is a social issue of great importance.

The City created the Police Oversight Panel (POP) in response to community outrage after BPD officers’ acts while detaining Zayd Atkinson without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. One stated goal of the POP is fostering greater trust between the police and the community, particularly community members who belong to groups that are disproportionately more likely to be harmed by police officers. Armed police officers attempting to interfere with community groups’ nominees for a panel intended to oversee the police is contrary to that goal. 

The scene at the Jan. 19 meeting was intimidating as police officers stood silently with guns and tasers in support of a speaker who was trying to reduce oversight of police. These officers’ behavior should be highly scrutinized due to the potential that these types of policy violations have to dampen or prevent future participation in public meetings regarding police oversight or misconduct. The risk is especially heightened for community members who have already had negative encounters with police — a key segment of the population that needs to be engaged with the police oversight panel’s work if the city is to meet its stated goals for the panel.

We count on our police officers to keep our community safe, but when we instead feel their presence as intimidating and we see them actively opposing effective police oversight work, the goals of both policing and police oversight are rendered unachievable.

Jane Hummer/Boulder

Hypocrisy and the ‘horrors of socialism’

On Groundhog Day, every Republican U.S. Representative (and most Democrats) voted in unison to proclaim: “We Are All Individuals!” They marched in lockstep to publicly denounce the “Horrors of Socialism.” While there is an element of truth behind House Concurrent Resolution 9, the resolution itself was absurd for several reasons.

1) False equivalence: By denouncing “socialism in all its forms,” House Concurrent Resolution 9 falsely equates the brutal totalitarian communist regimes of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot with the democratic socialism of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This nonsensical extreme right-wing posturing equates social welfare programs with mass murder. A sane person could only vote NO on the resolution. Yet the U.S. House of Representatives passed it 328 to 86.

2) Hypocrisy: Yes, communist regimes and communist revolutionary movements have been responsible for the deaths of at least tens of millions of people. However, the U.S. Congress has no moral standing to condemn the brutality of totalitarian communism while extolling the virtues of American “individualism.” U.S. military imperialism since the end of World War II has been responsible for the deaths of an estimated 20 to 30 million people in dozens of victim nations. The United States was built on a foundation of genocide, slavery, colonialism and white supremacy. 

3) Slavery: House Concurrent Resolution 9 falsely proclaims that “the United States of America was founded on the belief in the sanctity of the individual.” 

The U.S. Constitution was designed in secret by a handful of rich white men, predominantly slaveholders, to preserve their own wealth and power. A nation founded on slavery and genocide is not a nation founded on a “belief in the sanctity of the individual.”

Gary Swing/Boulder

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