NEW ORLEANS — In this time, taking a knee can take on so much significance. When protesters blocked the interstate above New Orleans Tuesday night, the NOPD showed what de-escalation looks and sounds like.
“We feel ashamed at what this officer did to tarnish the badge,” said a voice through a projector.
The voice belonged to New Orleans Chief Deputy Superintendent John Thomas.
“When we had the Occupy NOLA protest, when I was chief, then commander John Thomas was our lead on the ground at Duncan Plaza, and John did a wonderful job. And it appears he did the same thing last night.”
There are different views on this. On Facebook, one local man said he “cannot believe the NOPD took a knee and bowed with protesters.”
“I don’t think peacefully agreeing to let people have a moment to express their frustration with the government is bowing down to anything. I think it’s bowing up to the constitution,” said Ronal Serpas.
Former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said the NOPD and the protesters Tuesday night demonstrated these rallies do not have to end violently.
“It was beautiful to see,” said Justin Brown.
Justin Brown is a former New Orleans police officer with a unique perspective.
“I’ve been on both sides of the law. It’s not Black Lives Matter 100 percent; it’s not Blue Lives. it should be one,” said Brown.
Brown offers free criminal justice advice on Instagram through “Empower you NOLA”. After his own checkered record, Brown wants to be a resource for people and the police.
“The community sometimes doesn’t understand why you’re pulling them out of the car. I tell officers all the time today, it takes just two seconds to explain what you’re doing,” said Brown.
Maybe the officers Tuesday night took those extra seconds before they took a knee. As we’ve seen recently and in the past, split-second decisions often come with long-lasting repercussions.