Our lead story yesterday (Welcome to your arrest!) featured photographs of senior policemen greeting protestors who had turned up in order to stage a rasta roko. For those of you who didn’t pick up a copy — and shame on you — our photographers captured handshakes before the agitation began and the subsequent detention featuring the same players. A senior cop embraced the man he promptly arrested minutes later.
This came as no surprise to most of us in the newsroom. After all, we have long been witness to rasta rokos and other agitations that spring to life only seconds after members of the media show up. What it does say about our system of policing, however, is disturbing. Policemen aren’t supposed to greet elected representatives or corporators as old friends while on duty. They are supposed to keep the peace at all costs. What happened yesterday was simply a farce from beginning to end.
History has shown that rasta rokos accomplish little of any significance. All they end up doing is exacerbate traffic conditions that are awful at the best of times in our increasingly crowded cities. Police ought to be more aware of this than others, considering they are usually stretched to the limit when these agitations occur. This is what makes the behaviour of those senior policemen so hard to stomach.
We have, in the past, reported instances of policemen sharing food and even a few jokes with undertrials and others they are supposed to guard. How is the common man supposed to look upon a policeman as a figure of authority when stories like these make it to our front pages? To embrace someone who is knowingly about to commit an unlawful act is unpardonable and unbecoming of officers of the law. We hope their superiors are listening.