One of the issues that led to the formation of this nation was freedom of speech. Be it one person standing on a soap box in the Boston Commons (days gone by) or several thousand people peacefully marching to the Capital (now in the day of mass media), Americans have exercised and enjoyed their ability to express their opinions for or against an issue. Tens of thousands of great men and women have given their lives to protect that that and other Constitutional rights. Sadly there are a few trouble makers that have marred this great tradition with premeditated violence and given the right of free speech and to protest a black eye.

It was not too long ago that I was proud to wear a badge watching marchers walk by with signs for one cause or another. The lines of law enforcement officers were there to ensure that all Americans could exercise their rights to express opinions without negatively impacting the rights and freedoms of other citizens. Because of a few angry and violent people, the role of a police officer has had to change. These small groups of people that have no opinions and have no respect for constitutional rights. Destroying property and harming others is not a constitutional right. They come to these events for only one self-identified purpose: “to cause trouble.”

They do not come with paper signs hoping to win support for a cause; they come with phone books taped to their bodies, masks and plastic bags of bleach and any nasty substance. They hide in the middle of peaceful law abiding citizens until the find a time to throw their bags of hate at the law enforcement people or peaceful attendees at events. Have you seen the violence they have initiated at the conventions.

Resent press has shown cops trying to walk a narrow line, damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they sit back and just protect themselves and the ones that are clearly peaceful while the trouble makers break windows and set fire to storefronts and cars, they are condemned. If they try to step into the crowd to get the trouble makers from the middle of the good people, we only see in the press what appears to be an over reactive storm trooper.

The picture taken of a cop pushing people away with a baton seems to never be followed by the ones that show what happened before and after that one moment. The moment before when the officer was deflecting a punch or holding the crowd back from trampling someone that was just in the wrong place at the right time.

Our men and women in blue have an impossible job in these situations. Much like our military, they put their lives on the line every day so that we can enjoy our freedoms. It is easy to watch the coverage of the convention and say the cops should have done this or not done that but when things are hitting the fan, these men and women have sworn an oath to serve and protect. The people that deserve the negative press and photo ops are the knuckle-heads that spark the violence in the first place.

We clearly see other parts of the world that has no justice system. The great thing is that ours is continually trying to improve itself.