Whilst scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a video that had been shared by several of my good friends - people whom I respect and love very dearly. However, this video offended me to the point of rendering me incapable of doing anything else until I had written this article. So thank you all for interrupting my day.
The video in question showed some protesters who had gathered to protest against the Cardiff Arms Fair, something I know fairly little about but seems like a legitimate and probably admirable cause. This video was nothing to do with the arms fair however.
The video allegedly depicted "police brutality" according to popular online magazine VICE, and constituted complete condemnation of the entire South Wales Police Force by several of my Facebook friends.
These statuses make me angry, really angry, and it's all because I am very biased. I have a sibling who works for a Police Force, and I want you all to take a second to empathise with the police, rather than the protesters. Just for one second, if you can manage that.
I want you to imagine a day in the life of a police officer. It's something that not many of you will ever take the time to do, but I don't think you can sincerely comment on the police until you know what they have to do every day.
A day for my brother is not made up of hitting peaceful protesters with his baton. It is made up of talking people down off the top of high-rise car parks due to the lack of mental health services. It is made up of convincing domestic abuse victims to come forward before their partner takes it one step further. At times, it is made up of putting his life in danger to remove someone's weapon without severely harming them. I don't think anyone who shared this video truly appreciates the strain this job puts on not just the officer, but everybody who loves and cares for them.
And now we come to the protesters. Those brave, noble people, who think that the best way to stop the arms trade is by shouting in the face of a man or woman who may well have not seen the light of day for the last week due to a dangerously strenuous shift pattern.
With regards to the video, the fact is: at times there's places you are not allowed to go. Whether you like it or not, you are not free to walk into every building as you please, that's just life. The police are simply there to enforce this. If you resist arrest and a police officer wrestles you to the floor, or uses their baton to stop you from fighting, that is not police brutality. That's just how the law works.
So I will concede that not all protesters are the same. I will concede that there were probably some protesters who didn't want to engage with the police, but found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's a shame, it really is. Police who overstep the line should be punished, just like the rest of us are in any other job.
But in turn, I ask that you concede something. I ask you to concede that fact that the Police Force is made up of a huge variety of people with an incredible diversity of personalities and beliefs. There are police officers who are trying to change the status quo. There are police officers who have sleepless nights thinking about all the vulnerable people they encountered. There are police officers who probably oppose the arms trade.
So how dare you try to portray yourselves as the real victims of society. If you think you're a victim for being arrested for shouting in a police officer's face, then you are deluded. You do not know what it means to be a victim. In fact, you are taking up the police's time and resources from real victims, vulnerable people whose only chance of survival relies on the help offered by the police.
Please don't try to demonise the people who are primarily there to keep us safe. Don't wait until something horrendous happens to you to appreciate everything they do for society.