By Joanne Steel
This article has been a long time in the writing and I want to apologize for the delay, I was unsure about writing this as it’d been so long and it has been hard for me to write this, but then because of events since this incident, but I felt it was only fair, this had to be written on behalf and in defense of Hathian Police Department and it’s officers to counterpoint the negative press that the department has been receiving recently.
I have read what a colleague wrote about Hathian Police Department (HPD) and I am astonished that the article would seemingly paint every single member of HPD with the same brush of corruption and brutality despite this being far from how things truly are. And while it may or may not be true that some officers are aware of what their colleagues do, and may even turn a blind eye to it I think it is disingenuous to come out, in a local newspaper, and decry the lack of trust in HPD when the straw poll of people seemed to be confined to a very small number of the overall population of the Greater and Lower Hathian Region. While there are obvious issues in the rank and file at Hathian Police Department, and this has been true for a number of years, the issue is not so widespread as it was a number of years ago it is wrong and SHORT SIGHTED to blame every single member of Hathian Police Department for the conduct of a very small minority,
I have my personal opinion of the report made, but I will keep that to myself if is a conversation for her and I, to have another day, as someone that has worked at the Observer for more years than I care to recall I still feel we have a responsibility, to be honest, and accountable for the stories we write to get to the heart of the issue rather than relying on sensationalism.
27th February 2022, 11:25 am Central Standard Time
The following news story I have had to retrieve after it’d been deleted for some reason without my knowledge, and I feel that this story I am about to tell is very relevant to the continuing ongoing discourse around the Hathian Police Department, its officers, and the conduct of those officers while on duty.
This is my experience of being on the front line with HPD a ‘peaceful protest walk’ against HPD which actually turned out to be those criminal elements with a grudge against the Police Department looking for the opportunity to devolve this so-called protest into scenes of violence aimed at the Police.
As is always the way in Hathian, if you have a complaint, you want to bitch and moan about something, then blame Hathian Police Department, and that is how it has been in this town for many years. And while the cops of HPD are not all innocent, the majority do their job in trying times, to the best of their ability, while being understaffed, underfunded, and unsupported by the local government based in New Orleans that controls the purse strings for regeneration in the state, but year after year seems to forget Hathian exists.
So the minute I heard about this planned ‘protest’ against HPD I knew what was going to happen I predicted that it would end in violence and wouldn’t you guess who won the pony, that is exactly how it turned out as a couple of people, with genuine issues against one or two members of HPD had what I believe would have otherwise been, had it not been for the interference of outside parties, a peaceful protest, turn into yet another night of shame for the people of this town.
I was fortunate enough to speak to Detective Lt. O’Neil and was invited by her to join them as she and the officers of the Police Department prepared for what was expected to be a long day. Immediately as I walked into the foyer of HPD I could tell this was no ordinary day, officers milled around the reception office, others were coming from the lockers carrying stab vests and looking suspiciously to anyone entering the building. There was a palpable tension in the air as the senior officers gave instructions, the main thing that stood out was to stay your ground, and do not retaliate, no matter what the provocation. Some of the officers I recognized, they’d been there months, years, and knew what to expect, some of the newer officers looked nervous, and who could blame them, they came to do their job and were treated like the enemy for no other reason than the uniform they wore.
Outside the familiar entrance of HPD had been blocked off, steel mesh plating on either side narrowed the entrance to allow one person at a time access, choking the traffic to and from the foyer area and should things have gone South, giving them an easy way to deal with people trying to get inside to occupy the building. Further outside on the street sandbags in a broken semi-circle surrounded the entrance, a few officers stood around chatting, and watching up the street as a crowd started to gather. The faces were familiar and certainly seemed to be less the protesting type and more those looking to incite violence.
On the roof, we watched, as the protest would make their way to the entrance of HPD, this was less a march as had been discussed and more people just gathering in the area to shout loudly about defunding police, which is an irony lost on the people shouting it who were too ignorant to realize that a) the police are barely funded hence the not fit for purposes building they are in, lack of staff and resources, and b) if the police were defunded who would they call next time they were getting attacked in the street or robbed, or kidnapped, etc, etc. People go on about defunding the police but forget that as violent as the streets of Hathian is, it’d be a damn sight worse without the brave officers of HPD patrolling the streets. As it is they are barely funded, equipment is old, staffing is short, and facilities are not fit for purpose, considering the sheer number of people being processed on a daily basis.
At first, things started off relatively quiet orders had been given that if force was required, then it should be nonlethal but for the time being the Officers had been told to observe, and not respond no matter what the provocation, a difficult task when missiles are being thrown at you but this is what they did, ensuring that if there was any provocation it wouldn’t be from them. Matthew Dune, a local lawyer would approach the barricade, using it as a platform he addressed the crowd. As he did one woman (later identified as Miss Wren Indigo a resident of Hathian), made it past the barrier and stabbed one of the officers in the shoulder but she was soon subdued by another Officer (still using non-lethal force despite the provocation) and the first arrest was made, the Officer would thankfully make a full recovery and return to duty.
While the “peaceful” protest continued the rhetoric from Mr Dune was ramped up, accusing HPD of using force rather than common sense which was funny considering they could have easily removed him but, as he is permitted under the First Amendment he was given his freedom of speech to disprove what he was saying by being allowed his freedom of speech. The irony was of course lost on Mr. Dune. Another woman, identified as ‘Liz’ would then make an attempt to stab the arresting officer, resulting in the officer being stabbed in the back, and would also find herself arrested too, we have no update on whether this officer has returned to duty yet after his ordeal. Also at this time Mr. Dune had been Tasered for noncompliance after repeated requests for him to move back from the barrier to the other side of the road fell on deaf ears.
The “Peaceful Protest” had rapidly devolved into people trying to attack the HPD Officers standing behind the barrier, with missiles also being thrown at them, eventually, non-lethal weapons were used to start to quell the unrest and try to bring some semblance of order back to the proceeding. At this point, I should state that the order had been given to use minimal force, many officers seemed reluctant and used it only as a last resort. From where I was stood I was able to hear the chatter over the radio, with more senior officers instructing their colleagues, as it was obvious some were shocked at how things had become so violent without any shred of provocation whatsoever. The true motives of some of those assembled in the protest were obvious from the beginning, they were only there for confrontation and to cause as much chaos and violence as they could.
Things started to slowly quieten down, Sam Warrhol-Kelly was dragged down to the ground and arrested by two officers, I had moved to start taking photographs so did not see the incident and so am unsure what was behind his arrest. By now that must have been the fourth or fifth arrest made, HPD was gradually taking control of the situation and quelling the more violent elements of this ‘Peaceful Protest”. I am disgusted to also say at some point I heard someone who identified herself as a member of the press being verbally berated by an officer for throwing rocks at HPD, as one of the more senior reporters I find it abhorrent as a colleague of mine, employed by this newspaper or any newspaper for that matter, would let themselves become embroiled in the violence.
Water Cannons and Tear Gas were used to finally disperse the crowd and a few stragglers were either arrested or stood watching and recording for their next biased blog about how heavy-handed HPD is without even giving both sides of the conversation or telling the true story of what exactly happened.
In the end, as someone that has seen much of this before, sadly, it is just another day in Hathian, the blame game will continue, it has long been established that Hathian Police Department is blamed for everything wrong in this city. With a crime rate that often tops rankings as the worst in the United States, (The year 2021 saw Hathian head the list of most violent cities for the third consecutive year), in an underfunded and understaffed department, it can be barely a surprize that HPD takes a hardened stance towards serious crime.
Some people see jail time as little more than a vacation, others demand HPD do more to make the streets safer them at the same time are openly hostile to those same officers trying to Protect And Serve, and with cries of ‘Defund The Police’ from the ill-informed fight, or open violent hostility, without understanding that, without these officers, without this Department, they would be facing the abys of living in a real-life ‘Purge’ where the epidemic of violent crime would see the streets run red. We should not chastise HPD we should praise these brave officers for doing a thankless job.
April 8th 2022