That is the message I glean from the five Palo Alto police officers who filed a suit against the city, their employer, for allowing a Black Lives Matter 245x17-foot- mural to be painted on Hamilton Avenue, adjacent to City Hall, where these officers work.
This one female and four male police officers of course have a right to sue the city, and were supported by a police association out of Sacramento.
But . . .
Their reason, according to the suit: They were “forced to physically pass and confront the mural” every time they entered police headquarters. The officers called it an “offensive, discriminatory and harassing iconography,” that fostered a “hostile” and “retaliatory” work environment.
They evidently are objecting to the painted portrait of Assata Shakur, a member of the Black Liberation Party who was convicted in 1977 for a 1973 shooting of a New Jersey police trooper. She was jailed, and then escaped to Cuba, where she received asylum. Seeing her face as a hero really disturbed the officers daily, they claim.
C’mon guys. You are our police officers – big, strong, able people hired to protect the city – and its residents. And yet because you felt upset when you saw this mural on the street going in and out of your department daily, you file a suit?
I certainly can understand a police officer’s resentment to someone who killed an officer, but 48 years ago?
How do you think Blacks feel when they see pictures of George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer months ago?
The mural was commissioned by the city’s Public Arts Commission, in response to Black requests for a Black Lives Matter art work in this community. A black artist created the mural.
The police officers’ sensitive reaction made me think of all the soldiers who fought in WW II and the Vietnam War who were fighting the enemy for days, for months, who must have been in absolute fear most of the time. Fear is a feeling, too. But they didn’t file a suit against their employer, the U.S. government.
I am coming on strong here, but I sense these hurt feelings and so-claimed hostile environment these five officers said they faced is part of a recent new American trend that hurt feelings, not fact, matter most, and one is entitled to cry out about hurt feelings.
The law suit declares the five officers had to walk by the mural daily to enter the police department, which faces Forest Avenue. But the mural is a block away, nowhere near the entrance.
And it had a three-month display period in town. The city arts commission frequently has three-month temporary art displays. And the suit was filed after the mural was gone.
Plaintiff’s damages, the suit says, are in excess of $25,000. direct, foreseeable, and proximate result 0f Defendants’ discriminatory conduct. “Plaintiffs suffered and continues to suffer humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety,mental anguish, and emotional distress,” the suit adds.
That attitude about feelings is symbolized to me by all of those high school and college students today where if they listen to something in class that upsets them, they need to run to special school “safe rooms” where they can sit on soft chairs and hug cuddly teddy bears. Many colleges and universities allow students to walk out of class if they hear something from a professor or invited speaker that upsets them. As a not-so-hypothetical suggestion, if a white hears about the way blacks were treated in this country as slaves, he may find this upsetting and walk away from lesson the professor is teaching. Or if a black hears that same lesson, she may walk away because she is upset about what her ancestors experienced.
A teacher or professor is trying to teach students what happened in this country, and these students are in a classroom to learn the history of racism or violence or whatever in this country– the facts of that actually occurred.
Some students also complain about hearing ideas different from their own. Colleges who invite certain speakers are finding students shouting over what a guest speaker is saying, which is not only impolite but such outcries destroy an opportunity to learn about views that differ from one’s own ideas. College is a wonderful opportunity to explore all sorts of ideas.
But these five who filed the suit are not students, they are middle-aged trained police officers. Act your age!