Celebrating the work of police is too controversial to highlight at this high schoolBy Jim Glennon | Dec 4, 2017
16-year-old Steven Rahor knew what he wanted to do right away.
It was the beginning of his junior year and he was sitting in his social studies class when the teacher gave out an assignment. The teacher told the students that they needed to find a partner and create a video, set to music, with images that addressed a socially significant issue of the day.
In the fall of 2016 the issues of the day centered around cops—and not in a good way. Police brutality, police violence, police racism—the idea that police are the enemy—this was the agenda-driven daily discourse. Ferguson was a year old. Riots in major cities seemed routine. Black Lives Matter was given a platform by politicians. Videos of police officers using force were everywhere, purporting to show widespread malicious intent.
This didn’t sit well with young Steven. He knew better.
See, Steven’s father is a court officer, a captain in the greater New York City area. And the captain’s son wanted to pay tribute to his father’s profession through the social studies assignment. He saw the day-to-day of his father’s work. He loved listening to his father’s stories and know his father’s colleagues. He knew they were good, hard-working people doing a difficult job.
So, he sought out a partner he knew would share his opinion. His friend, Julia Cafero, is the daughter of a correction’s officer. Together they went to work.
They picked out the music, a 2012 song by Imagine Dragons called Bleeding Out. According to Wikipedia: “Most agree that the song is about people giving all they have for another. They are willing to do everything in their power to protect this person and that includes ‘bleeding out for [them].’”
This description seemed a perfect fit for what they were trying to say about the men and women who risk their lives while wearing the uniform every day.
“We wanted to humanize the cops,” Steven told me.
So, they went to work. I could describe it in detail, but instead, stop and watch it here.
That’s what Steven and Julia’s teacher thought after it was shown in class along with all of the other partner’s projects.
Steven told me that he recalls the teacher telling him something along these lines: “While I don’t agree with all of the content, the video and presentation was very good.” The students received 95/100 for their effort.
An assembly was going to commence several weeks after the classroom presentation last spring and only a select group of the projects would be shown. The teacher told Steven that “it would be a great one to show” and assured him it would be included.
Steven was given a special pass so he could attend the assembly but when he saw the assembly program “Bleeding Out,” as they dubbed it, was not included as one of the videos.
So he went to his teacher.
“I got no clear answer to why my video wasn’t included,” Steven says. “My teacher told me it may have been ‘time issues.’ He then told me that a committee I never heard of made the final decision.”
I asked Steven if he ever went to the committee.
“I have no idea who was on the committee, when it met, or when and why it made the decision.”
The video eventually was highlighted in an article on Law Enforcement Today and Steven’s father put it up on his Facebook page. Not surprisingly, it exploded. People everywhere loved it—well, everywhere apparently but at Steven’s high school.
Steven told me that he had no negative comments from any students about his project. His friends all loved it.
However, when he sat through the assembly, he noticed something about those that were chose.
“I felt like I was watching the same video over and over again. They were all very one sided: anti-Trump and anti-police, and they supported Black Lives Matter and illegal immigration. There was no balance at all.”
Steven isn’t sure who pulled their video and he doesn’t really care. He’s just glad others like it especially police officers.
Today Steven is about to turn 18. He wants to be an educator. He also wants to encourage a diversity of opinions.
The same social studies teacher who assigned the project didn’t seem to share Steven’s view about true diversity. The young man told me that he generally liked his teacher but there was no ambiguity about his political stance. “He wore all black the day after the election and told class that the day was like a funeral for America and one of the worst days of his life.”
A police organization wants to put Steven’s video in their Hall of Fame but can’t unless the musical group, Imagine Dragons, gives permission. So far they haven’t.
Captain George Rahor explained to me that they have no interest in some sort of monetary gain with the video. They just want to show it to honor the police profession.
“I’ve emailed several times, called and even sent regular mail but, nothing,” says Capt. Rahor.
I’ll say what the captain won’t. It could be that Imagine Dragons finds it distasteful to be seen as a group that honors the men and women of law enforcement.
But maybe I’m wrong.
It does, however, seem as though anyone who in any way openly supports the police will have some negative blowback later on. As I’ve written numerous times, our profession does have its bad members. But statistically, it’s low and probably comparable to any other profession I imagine: TV anchors, politicians, professional comedians, actors, producers, and teachers.
Law enforcement officers risk their lives daily for strangers. They arrest without incident more than 95% of the time. They refrain from using force much more than resorting to it. But we are demonized, just as criminals are portrayed as victims.
Steven is finding out in his young life that reality is often trumped by agenda.
So why don’t you let Steven and Julia know that you, at least, appreciate their efforts. Let them know they aren’t alone, and that their high school teachers and administrators, with their myopic views of the world, aren’t representative of our future.
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