Violent protests are no way to hold moral high ground

A Charleston police officer was hit by a brick thrown during an anti-violence protest last week. Michael Wiser/File

Last week, someone threw a brick at a Charleston police officer during an anti-violence protest.

Think about how mind-numbingly hypocritical that is.

What’s worse, the reaction from most people was a relieved “Thank God he wasn’t shot.”

This is what we’ve come to — and it’s a long way from where Charleston was last year, when the world marveled at how we calmly handled more tragedy in three months than most communities could endure in a decade.

It seems the whole country has gone nuts, and we don’t need to follow suit.

Officer Joseph Jacobs is doing fine and healing after someone lobbed a brick or piece of concrete that bounced off his protective vest and hit him in the face.

He was lucky, considering what’s happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

But that shouldn’t be the standard of measurement. The fight for civil rights wasn’t won with violence, and neither will our current struggles.

Some people need to review the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s six principles of nonviolence.

Of course, some people also need to review irony. Because blaming all police officers for the actions of a few is exactly the same thing as racial profiling.

Unfair.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen calls the situation today unprecedented — and he’s right.

People are essentially out hunting cops in the streets, yet they still get up every day and go do their jobs.

That’s because the vast majority of officers are good people who just want to help others. They sure don’t do it for the pay.

Just as the police shouldn’t automatically assume a young black man is dangerous, people should not assume the police are the enemy.

They aren’t.

This is much more complicated.

The frustration on display across this country is not only about the unwarranted killing of black men, which happens far too often.

It’s also about the unwillingness of a large percentage of people to even concede that it is a problem.

Our Congress reflects that apathy. And cops are paying the price for this country’s stunning lack of empathy.

The Black Lives Matter movement started over that very issue because, to some people, they don’t matter.

And they aren’t saying other lives don’t matter, they are saying black lives matter, too.

The vast majority of those folks aren’t out assaulting police officers.

But after Dallas and Baton Rouge, they all got painted with the same brush.

Kind of the way the cops are getting tarnished now.

And the cycle not only continues to churn, it escalates.

Tuesday morning, the city held another meeting of the Illumination Project — an effort to build better relationships between the community and the police.

The city was smart and began this process last year, and Mullen says it’s going well. By fall, some of the things coming out of these listening sessions will be implemented. Already, some of the suggestions have been used.

That is the way out of this pattern, not by stoking the fires with violent protests. Killing cops is doing nothing but escalating the situation. You know, just like Dylann Roof wanted.

Sen. Tim Scott — who most people consider a pretty conservative, law-and-order guy — last week suggested police departments need more de-escalation training, more diversity training.

If congressmen would listen to him, and do more than send hollow prayers while ignoring real problems, that might happen.

But nothing is going to de-escalate as long as police officers have to do their jobs in a war zone. It’s more than understandable to be upset that a law-abiding citizen is gunned down by police for no good reason.

Throwing a brick at Officer Jacobs because of something someone did in Minnesota is not the answer. It’s hypocritical.

And it makes about as much sense as pulling over Tim Scott and asking if he stole his car just because he’s black.

Reach Brian Hicks at bhicks@postandcourier.com.