How far America has come since President Obama declared, just six months into his first term, that cops “acted stupidly” in arresting Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates.
In a dangerous play on words, a Las Vegas shirt-maker is looking to take advantage of all the trumped-up animosity toward police by selling T-shirts that read: “Shoot cops.”
But Francisco Carbajal insists the message refers to cameras, not firearms.
“We’re not promoting violence,” he told KLAS-TV. “Our message is simple. Pull out your phone and record any interaction with a police officer.”
And while the local police department will only say it respects the right to free speech, one retired law enforcement officer sees it differently.
“He’s playing word games and, as far as I’m concerned, what he’s advocating is violence towards the police,” said retired cop Randy Sutton. “Somehow, it became socially acceptable within the last year or so to be disrespectful to a police officer.”
Others will argue it started well before that, in Cambridge, Mass., following the July 2009 arrest of a belligerent, uncooperative black Harvard professor.
“It’s beyond disturbing; it’s insulting,” Sutton added. “It’s camouflage. His message isn’t about shoot the police with a camera. It’s lies. It’s garbage. It’s trash. It’s a lie.”
Especially when it comes from a man who claims he was harassed by police as a teen.
“I never met a policeman who treated me with respect,” Carbajal told the CBS affiliate.
A scan of social media shows plenty who side with law enforcement in the controversy. That is a finding consistent with a recent Rasmussen poll that indicates, one year after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, “most Americans have an even more positive view of their local police and don’t consider their tactics out of line.”
Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:
— John Elson (@forwardDEMS) August 20, 2015
@Mediaite He’s an idiot. A real idiot.
— Arredondo-Montelongo (@txjunebug12) August 20, 2015
NOW IF IT WAS ANY OTHER RACE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SHUT DOWN AND TOLD NOT TO OPEN UP AGAIN. http://t.co/G2RypoHOM4
— tribal voice (@tribalvoice1) August 20, 2015
# 8 on your side absolutely hate that t-shirt suit that says shoot cops I find it disrespectful to our law enforcement professionals
— Richard Lee BEATTY (@uber360vip) August 19, 2015
Yeah, like I’m going to wear a shirt that says, “SHOOT COPS.” My luck, they’ll think I’m telling them to shoot me: “SHOOT, COPS.” #itsasetup
— #Injustice (@TanaBoo78) August 19, 2015