‘Blue Flu’ as Atlanta Police Walk Out. Will Other Pushbacks Follow?

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Altanta police hold a line at a protest to mark Juneteenth. th day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. (Photo: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)
Atlanta police hold a line at a protest to mark Juneteenth, the day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. (Photo: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Last week reports trickled in on Wednesday of Atlanta police synchronizing a refusal to come into work or calling out sick, dubbing the event a “Blue Flu.” The walkouts are suspected to be a response to the murder charge assigned to a fellow officer following the killing of Rayshard Brooks before an investigation was concluded.

Trying to minimize the PR damage, the Atlanta Police Department formally tweeted that it wasn’t a “walkout,” but a “call out,” adding that they had confidence that operations would be maintained.

However, information continued to pour in, pointing to a “blue wall” of solidarity within the Atlanta Police Department.

As people shuffled through information, one thing stood out: On Wednesday night, police scanners for Zone 6 were dead silent.

By Thursday morning, it was announced that every Atlanta police officer was slated to receive a one-time $500 bonus as thanks for their hard work during protests and COVID-19 courtesy of the Atlanta Police Foundation.

However, critics noted that it was perhaps a desperate attempt to retain law enforcement on the job to protect a city that could nosedive into open violence without a lack of police presence. Significantly, this pushback by law enforcement is the first institutional counter-demonstration since the riots and attacks of law enforcement.

What Happens When the Cavalry Quits?

The trickle-down effect of the open extremism being displayed in the U.S. via Antifa, the open riots and the pressure to conform to the protesters’ dictates, is impacting the other side of the country as well. In Los Angeles, on the same day, transit officers didn’t show up for work after it was announced that they could no longer be given overtime pay.

Law enforcement isn’t the only industry impacted by open extremism in the United States. Trucker drivers have also voiced their concerns, adding that they won’t deliver to cities which have defunded their police departments:

“…if something was to happen and you have to take matters into your own hands, and then you risk being prosecuted for protecting yourself.” – Truck Driver

Additional concerns for truckers included questions of basic safety in an industry where many are already hassled for parking, getting a meal or using a restroom. They were also concerned about unloading for vendors in cities where looting has taken place.

Los Angeles and New York have already significantly cut spending on police. They are also two locations where residents rely on truck drivers to deliver everything from food to medicine and basic household goods. Minneapolis, on the other hand, is not only defunding the police department but disbanding it altogether.

Whether disbanded or compromised, lack of law enforcement presence puts all citizens at risk. The owner of Car Tender, an auto shop bordering the Seattle Capitol Hill Autonomous Free Zone (CHAZ — now renamed CHOP, the Capital Hill Organized Protest), says he called 911 several times last Sunday but no police officer ever showed up.

The shop was being broken into by a protester who tried to steal cash, keys to the cars and set the shop on fire. Auto shop owner John McDermott and his son eventually detained the suspect themselves after over a dozen calls to 911. Even though the 911 operator indicated (at least during the first few calls) someone was being sent over, no one showed up — neither the police nor the fire department.

Eventually, the operator said to McDermott that no one would be coming to the call, indicating it was too dangerous, that the police had to preserve their own lives and they had families they had to go home to at the end of the day, as well.

In attempting to detain the suspect, the suspect attempted to slash McDermott’s son with a box cutter. Soon other protesters arrived on the scene and demanded the suspect be released.

“I don’t know what to expect next. If you can’t call the police department, you can’t call the fire department to respond, what do you have? Heartbroken. I mean, they are the cavalry.” – John McDermott

McDermott’s right. At the end of the day, law enforcement is the cavalry. What do you do when the cavalry walks out?

As protesters riot against America and its institutions, they often don’t stop to consider the security those institutions provide. While reforms may be needed across many sectors, radically dismantling infrastructure is an extreme reaction that puts everyone’s lives at greater risk and opens the country to greater vulnerability to foreign extremist agendas.



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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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