The Police Chief Who Tried Something Different With Ferguson Protesters

The Police Chief Who Tried Something Different With Ferguson Protesters

Yet another police department is making headlines for their treatment of Ferguson protesters—but this time, it involves hot chocolate instead of militarized police forces.

Chief Steve Anderson of the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) decided to respond to a large Ferguson protest in November without any kind of violence—no rubber bullets, militarized riot gear, or tear gas. Instead, he and his officers distributed water bottles, coffee, and hot chocolate to protesters as they marched through Nashville. They even walked with the Ferguson protesters and protected them as one would expect the police to do for a parade or other notable public event.

The chief stated in an interview with local television station WKRN-TV 7:

“In Nashville, if you want to come to a public forum and express your thoughts, even if they’re against the government, you’re going to get your First Amendment protection, and you’re going to be treated fairly by the police officers involved.” (Ben Swann)

Some citizens criticized the department strongly for not arresting any protesters and allowing them to do whatever they wanted—even blocking the I-25 for twenty minutes as they marched across the interstate. But as Anderson wrote in an email reply to one frustrated citizen, he did not regret giving the protesters such freedom, and remained confident that his approach was the best one available:

“In comparing the outcome here in Nashville with what has occurred in some other cities, the results speak for themselves. I stand on the decisions that have been made.” (The Tennessean)

No looting, vandalizing, or violence occurred during the massive protest—all thanks to the police refusing to retaliate to the hyped emotions that come with protests. The protesters themselves responded positively to the kindness and respect from the police department. Police officers monitoring the protesters reported afterward that the people were even cleaning up their trash as they left an area. This kind of mutual respect and cooperation stands in stark contrast to the rest of the nation, as other police departments across the country have received military vehicles and weapons in order to better confront violence in these kinds of protests and riots.

As protests grow more prevalent and dangerous across the country, politicians are taking action in Washington to help end the chaos. Senator Rand Paul has been one of the biggest critics of military surplus equipment being sent to police departments ever since the Ferguson protests began in August. Even President Obama has been prompted to action and has since called for further investigations and training for police departments that receive such lethal and powerful equipment—equipment which is designed for use on battlefields, not against American citizens.

Despite efforts beginning in Washington, the most significant change is coming from local police departments, as Chief Anderson has proven. All these Ferguson protesters needed was some free hot chocolate. Tweet us or leave a comment on Facebook if you know of any other stories like this.

Written by K. Montgomery

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