Yesterday evening as the police plane buzzed around overhead – I think there might be two of them – I got a little annoyed at the noise, and then stewed for a minute or two about the questions that I've been asking on this blog. Have the protesters gone too far? And will this wave of demonstrations fizzle out, with no real change in police accountability in Portland, as protests have a hundred times before?
Coming up with no answers, I went inside and flipped on the cable, there to watch the "news" because the sports that usually amuse me are all discontinued. Instead of Wimbledon, you get Cuomo. Instead of MLB, you get TRMS.
I don't know exactly what to make of Cuomo. He looks and sounds like a guy from my old neighborhood, one of the smart kids. He always acts like he's coming after you. But sometimes his big scary windup precedes an underhand pitch.
Anyway, last night as he wheeled people in and out by remote control from his Hamptons basement, one of the guests was Ken Burns, the historian-filmmaker. "They're tearing down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson," Cuomo said to Burns. "Have they crossed a line?" Hey, I thought, that's my question no. 1.
Burns had a good answer. He didn't say yes or no. What he said, and I'm paraphrasing, was Now is the time for people with complexions like yours and mine to be quiet.
"It's the reckoning," Burns added. He said that a couple of times.
Food for thought.
Then, this morning, Willamette Weed basically asked my second question: Is change really going to come to policing in Portland this time around?
Right off, I saw that my old lunch mate, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, agrees with me: It's the police union contract. If it doesn't change, neither will the misconduct.
But there is some movement afoot that may work around the edges of that ugly document. Apparently the state legislature is thinking about some new rules that might allow the city to actually fire a cop, and keep him fired, if he murders someone. And that's news, I guess, in that most of the state legislators seem to be errand-runners for the public employees' unions.
At the moment, though, many of the "solons" are willing to take at least a mildly adversarial stance against the police unions. And at least some of the other government employee bargaining units sound like they're content to let the cops twist slowly in the wind.
But serious change? I'll believe it when I see it. Meanwhile, let the police planes keep flying and the young people keep raising hell. And everybody, please wear a mask.