I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines and read the stories of law enforcement agents around the country taking extreme measures to enforce lockdown or stay at home orders. Citizens are being arrested for opening their businesses, brutally beaten for not social distancing correctly, and thrown against walls for merely trying to cut in a line.
Everywhere it seems to be out of control. But as this cop from Seattle proves, it isn’t the majority, or at least shouldn’t be.
Police Officer Greg Anderson of the Port of Seattle Police Department posted a video of himself at the beginning of the month, talking about all the craziness we have seen from law enforcement over the last few weeks and months.
In it, he reminds his fellow officers that while they do have the responsibility to uphold the laws within their jurisdiction and keep people safe during this time, it does not give them free rein to step on American’s constitutional rights.
He says, “I have seen officers nationwide enforcing tyrannical orders against people and I’m hoping it’s the minority of officers, but I’m not sure anymore.” He continued, saying, “I want to remind you that regardless of where you stand on the coronavirus, we don’t have the authority to do those things to people just because a mayor or a governor tells you otherwise. I don’t care if it’s your sergeant or your chief of police, we don’t get to violate people’s constitutional rights because somebody in our chain of command tells us otherwise. It’s not how this country works. Those are de facto arrests, you know we’re violating people’s rights.”
The officer also pointed out that if police persist in trampling on citizens’ rights, they will likely find themselves without any power whatsoever. Anderson warned that if the “sleeping giant” of the American is awakened, law enforcement will have their power stripped “in about 10 minutes.”
Anderson has an excellent point and one that many agree with, even his commanding officers. The video was a near-instant success, going viral within minutes and sparking a nationwide conversation about the fine line between keeping public health rules and abiding by the Constitution.
And therein lies the problem for Anderson.
Because of all the attention the video has received, the police department is starting to get some severe criticism. Thus, his chain of command asked him to remove the video.
As the Chief of Port of Seattle Police Rod Covey has said, the problem is not that Anderson has those opinions or even that he voiced them. It is that he did so while wearing a police uniform and badge and sitting in a patrol car.
In the video, we can clearly see that Anderson is in uniform and sitting in his squad car. Covey says it would have been fine if Anderson had made the video in his personal vehicle or while not in uniform. But because he did so with the Port of Seattle Police Department’s visage, “his right to speech has limitations.”
“Greg has always had the ability to express his opinions on what is going on in the country like all other Americans. However, he is not allowed to do so while on duty, wearing our uniform, wearing our badge, and while driving our patrol car. Every police officer in the country understands that.”
However, Anderson is refusing to take the video down. He said, “No, I can’t take the video down. If you believe in something in your heart, you have to stand by that conviction, even if it costs you everything.”
And it just might. As of right now, Anderson has been put on administrative leave pending an investigation. In addition, he was told that his “insubordination” of a direct order (to take down the video) will likely result in termination.
Chief Covey said, “I personally told this to Greg and told him that I would support his right to talk about these issues as long as he did so while not claiming any affiliation to our police department. Greg has chosen this course of action even after he and I spoke and while also knowing that his actions were outside of well-established policy.”
But because of this action against Anderson, the Police Department is receiving a tremendous amount of backlash. Millions have come to support him, providing a GoFundMe account of over $325,000 to help with expected legal fees.