THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Sprawlcast: Who’s policing the Calgary police?

A conversation with Councillor Courtney Walcott.

Sprawlcast is a collaboration between The Sprawl and CJSW 90.9 FM. It's a show for curious Calgarians who want more than the daily news grind. Subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Why has the thin blue line patch become such a flashpoint?

In this Sprawlcast, we look beyond the patch itself to try and understand what’s beneath the surface of this conflict—what it reveals, and what it obscures.

I spoke with Councillor Courtney Walcott, one of two city councillors who sit on the Calgary Police Commission, to explore questions of policing and public trust in Calgary.

What is the role of public consent in policing? Did the commission capitulate to a rogue police force that refused to remove the thin blue line—or is that an oversimplification? Who really took away that symbol from cops? And what are we to make of the bizarre situation of Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, a police critic and commission member who is now being investigated by police after an alleged altercation? We discuss this and more.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and length.



JEREMY KLASZUS: In the summer of 2020, at the public hearing on systemic racism, you said you believe we need to defund the police. I’m curious what that phrase means to you—and if it’s still your view, or if it’s changed at all over the last couple years.

COURTNEY WALCOTT: The public hearings in 2020 were hard. It was an emotional time for a lot of people. I think that’s what made that so hard. You have a bunch of traumatized people sharing their trauma. We were trying to tell the leaders of our city, the leaders that have the power to create some form of change, to try and tell them what it’s like, what this system does to people.

Defund means different things to different people. The challenge that I’ve always had is that people will always try and reduce complex concepts to a hashtag. But just like anything else, when you see it one time, two times, three times, five times, ten times, a million times—when you see it enough, it loses its complexity. So there were different groups of people that latched on to a concept that had been stripped of its nuance.

So for me, when I was speaking back then and I was using that language of “defund the police”— that is a wide-ranging area of academic analysis, where we were looking at understanding what role the police actually play within our system, within our society. In many ways, they are the front line of a massive system of care and the justice system. So, you have both the system of care and the justice system—they are the front line of both.

Over the years, they were meant to protect people and property. And all of a sudden they went from—as we started to approach different societal issues—the rise in drugs, mental health, we started to criminalize homelessness, we started to criminalize drug use, we criminalized honestly so many things that were seen at the time in our cultural history as undesirable, we criminalized it as a solution. So, for an organization like the police, they went from protecting property to putting homeless people into the system, then all of a sudden, they were starting to approach people who are finding themselves in a health crisis, using drugs, we want to criminalize them, and put them in jail. People who are suffering mental health, we’ve criminalized them for a very long time.

We use the police as a means of disrupting anything that we did not see as desirable, and every year we did that, we gave them some more money. Every year, we gave that system more money because that was the system we were using to respond to the things that the society had determined were undesirable.

As the world shifts around us and we educate ourselves, we elevate, we grow, we learn, we recognize that things that we maybe once considered as undesirable, we started to actually come back to the reality of humanity. We started to decompress and deconstruct some of these systems that created some pretty damaging impacts in our world, and we’re trying to shift them. But to shift the systems to a more wide-ranging complex system of care—to do that, it requires money. So, if you’re a financial analyst, you’re someone who believes in fiscal responsibility, and you’re saying this part of the system is underfunded, how did that happen. Well, when you go back in the history, you realize it’s underfunded because we funneled all this money toward the police to be the number one response to those issues.

So, different people will look at defund in different ways. I always looked at it as a reallocation across the system, a redistribution to create better equity in the system of care. Better mental health supports, better supports for people who find themselves unhoused and live with housing insecurity. Better health supports for people who find themselves suffering from the opioid epidemic. Better supports for people who are suffering from poverty before they ever find themselves in the situation where they need to go to crime. And policing for those who end up in crime and we still need a reactive force, a reactive service. That’s a strong system. When those systems are equitably funded.

I think that’s what made that so hard. You have a bunch of traumatized people sharing their trauma.

Courtney Walcott,

Ward 8 councillor

Which is why—because the nuance was stripped from the phrase defund the police. Some people viewed it as an abolition movement, but I never believed that that was an outcome that was going to produce a desirable outcome for society in the near future. Obviously, we all would love to live in a world in which we did not need a police service to protect us because we were safe, but I don’t believe that’s in the near future. So, people who believe defund the police became an abolition, I was never really a part of that. People who believe defund the police was about reallocating to create a more comprehensive system of care, that was the camp that I belonged into.

Which is why the organization that I was a part of during that summer of 2020 was called Defund2Fund. The concept was a simple one. We knew defund the police had too many multiple meanings [so] we couldn’t use it because it didn’t serve the purpose. It didn’t provide the nuance. It didn’t tell the right story. So, Defund2Fund was the organization that I worked with because that told the story. It used the word “defund,” it anchored it because that’s a symbol of history. That was a movement in history. But then the “to fund” part was to be able to fund different parts of the system that are chronically underfunded. I always felt that people lost the nuance, so we wanted to try and bring it back in that conversation.

That’s something police themselves have been saying for years in Calgary—that they’re kind of the last resort and being called upon to deal with all of these social problems. And they’ve said we’re not trained for this, we’re not equipped for this. But it’s all falling to us.

That is something that has been flagged for a long time. And I think that that was actually what was so—what sometimes is a little frustrating with the public narrative around this discussion is this work, this transformative work that we’re looking at trying to do as a society, it does require tradeoffs. And it is to be able to allow the police to get back to the core of what their duty is, that they are trained for, it does require some conversation about if we are reducing X here, then we need to ensure that we are putting Y here.

When those conversations are had in nuance, when those conversations are had proactively and not reactively, you end up finding out that a lot of people are actually on the same side. But when they’re done in opposition or when they’re done as a reaction to something or some criticism, then people dig their heels in into the opposition. And that’s not the place that we need to be in, that’s not the place that I want to be in, but that doesn’t change the outcome I think we’re trying to achieve.

I think we’re seeing a lot of that kind of tension and defensiveness and digging in heels that you’re talking about. And even thinking about the thin blue line discussion and the conflict that’s developed around that. I don't know if you see that playing out there too, but that’s what came to mind.

I believe so. The thin blue line conversation was happening months before I even entered into [the police] commission with a wide range of research that they came to. The work that’s going on in commission is one that’s really anchored in evidence.

So, in this conversation at least, I’m not speaking as a representative of Police Commission, but I definitely—I believe that the resolution going forward here has got to be education. There is a long, long history to anti-racism work and how certain groups will co-opt symbols for their own personal usage, and if we don’t spend the time to actually explain and have those conversations, then like you described, people will dig their heels in because things appear to be more personal than I believe they actually are. I think that’s a trend that we see quite often in politics nowadays is that everyone is trying to personalize some of these decisions, when they could just be evidence-based and they could just be for the best available option for the public.

You mentioned the thin blue line conversation happening before you got on council. And this council also inherited the situation of these ongoing protests in the Beltline. And then it all kind of came to a head in March when there was a counterprotest and then cops were attacking these counter protestors, and it all kind of blew up.

At the last commission meeting, you brought up the broken trust that exists now because of that. I’m curious how you see that. Can that trust be rebuilt between the Calgary Police Service and the public after something like that—where these community members find themselves rammed with bikes?

You said something that sticks with me. You used the word “attack.” What I always work with is you have to kind of put two hats on these conversations, and that’s not “councillor” or “commission,” right? This is actually just almost “professional” or “public.” You put your professional hat on, you put your public hat on. As a professional, especially when you speak with officers, the word attack—it wouldn’t fit what they would describe what they did. That use of force was—they would—and they have—Chief Neufeld has spoken about this. It’s justified as the discretion that’s being used to protect public safety. But again, as a member of the public though, especially when you hear stories, and for myself as a councillor, when you receive emails and phone calls from people who were there, from people who had bikes rammed into them to clear the street and so on, they felt attacked.

When you shine a spotlight on something like this, and the public gains more information and becomes more aware, the criticism just gets louder

Courtney Walcott,

Ward 8 councillor

And so, I think there has to be a degree of conversation where we—where I think all of us have to be able to start speaking the same language because—I’ll put this a little personally for me. As an ex-teacher, I could do something in the course of my day that could destroy the trust between myself and a student, and there’s two ways forward. One is that I could honestly defend it as just me doing my job, as long as it’s within the mandate of the work that I was doing. You know, as a teacher, maybe I was hypercritical of an assignment, or I made a comment about someone’s lateness, or I was very—you can do a lot of damage to a relationship, honestly, with an off the cuff remark to a kid, to a student. So, maybe I did that, but I did it in the line of my work and in the line of teaching. So, I could always talk about it that way. I could always say, “Oh, I was just doing my job.”

But for me, as an ex-teacher, I was always more concerned about—no matter what my intention was—what was the actual impact, especially if the relationship is the key thing here. If that’s the key outcome I want to develop, a strong relationship, because that’s what’s going to increase trust between myself and my students, then even though I might have done the right thing by definition, by the work that I was doing, it might have produced the wrong outcome for the group that I was trying to support. And I think we need to start having those conversations in that way, and that’s professionally, we can do the right thing, but as a member of the public, it might not feel that way. And that’s a conversation that needs to be had to I think rebuild trust by everybody. Politicians, police, and the public included.

And do you see that trust being rebuilt? Because it does feel a little fragile at this point.

Yeah, I think this is just one of those moments where we’re actually seeing the culmination of years of developing insecurities play out in a very, very short period of time. I like to think about this in a way—partially just because I think we’ve all been watching this trajectory happen for years now in varying outlets. When we look at the protests, these protests, the organizers, the people, they’ve been protesting pre-COVID, just on different issues. Yellow vests and so on. We’ve seen these conversations go on, these types of actions go on for a long time, so there is an increasing tension.

Criticism of the police is actually very similar in the sense that it ebbs and flows over decades. Obviously, you have heightened criticism in ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, maybe there was a little bit of a lull in the early 2000s when I think the world’s attention turned to post-9/11, and then you have Black Lives Matter and Trayvon Martin. And the criticism that kind of was always there, the spotlight shines on it a little bit more. When you shine a spotlight on something like this, and the public gains more information and becomes more aware, the criticism, again, just gets louder because more people are capable of criticizing, more people are capable of speaking to the issues that we see. And all of that is playing out today, right now.

That doesn’t even mean that we are actually at the end of the crescendo. Maybe it’ll keep going. Maybe there will be other incidents down the line. We actually can’t speak to that. I say all this to suggest that trust takes time to build, but it doesn’t actually take that much time to break down. That’s how I’m approaching this as a Calgarian: you’ve got to be diligent. You’ve got to work every day to not lose trust because once you do, it takes a long time to get it back.

That coalescing of these issues that you mention is interesting. It made me think of the piece that you wrote in the Calgary Herald about these protests that were happening in the beltline. And you talked about these elements of white supremacy in these movements, but you also talked about kind of what was simmering underneath the surface of people feeling, to some degree, left behind. And I can’t remember the language you used, but it was something along the lines of we need to call these folks back.

I found that very interesting because that was a very generous approach to a group who frankly has not been generous to you personally, the things they’ve said. I think they’ve said you should be tried for crimes and whatnot.

That is correct. Maybe it was generous. I often think that sometimes I am too generous. I guess I don’t believe that everyone—I do believe that some are, but I don’t believe that everyone is malicious. I do actually believe that there are many people who choose to walk a path and there are many people who are walked down a path, whose hands are held until they can walk on their own down that path themselves.

I think when I was looking at the conversations that were happening in and around those protests, we were seeing people who were protesting that probably just wanted some help. And they wanted some connection, they wanted some feeling of control in their life because COVID took away control from so many of us. I think if anybody were to even remotely pretend that they did not feel some loss of control over their life, that they would be lying.

Some of us just—we had coping systems and there’s skills that were developed. We have a safety net in some ways. That safety net, for some people, we found it in community, in networks, in family, and so on. And other people found—I do believe this, actually, this one’s a personal one—I think it’s Facebook. A lot of people found communities online. When we talk about a confluence of issues, well, it’s been about 10 years of misinformation and then especially post-2016, some pretty intense digital conspiracy theorists have been making inroads with regular people all the time.

The source of our information—this is where my educator hat comes on—the source of our information that we are choosing, people do not have the skills to vet them the same way. The actual intention behind some of the sources of information that are out there are so clearly malicious and manipulated, but in such a very persuasive and clever way that plays on a base understanding of logical kind of outcomes that I’m not even surprised that people buy into some of the things that they say and hear.

Because it actually takes an immense amount of work on everybody’s part. It takes an immense amount of work to actually develop the skills to decipher the complexities of the situations that we find ourselves in today. And for some people, we just want the world to be a little bit simpler. So, if someone gives us a reductionist, simplified, flag to wave, people will choose that. They will wave that flag because it’s easier than the complexities of the world we live in, that is challenging.

So, I’ve always seen that. And when you see that, I think you have to call people back in. You have to say, “Let me offer you this information. Let me show you what you’re doing, how it might hurt someone else.” I have to give you the choice to see the hurt because once you’ve seen the hurt, you can’t play ignorant. If I know if I’ve shown you the outcome of your action, the impact of your action, if I’ve shown that to you and you still make the same decision—if I show you the amount of people who died of COVID and you still make the decision to say we need to drop all restrictions—if I showed you that, then maybe at that point, I don’t have to be so generous. But until I have that opportunity to sit down and have that conversation, show you everything, and allow you to make a choice, knowing that you’ve had all the right information handed to you, then I can stop being generous. But until that time comes, I feel like I’m going to always leave that door open for education first, and then go from there.

You have to say, Let me offer you this information. Let me show you what you’re doing, how it might hurt someone else.”

Courtney Walcott,

Ward 8 councillor

Is that what’s happening in a sense with this thin blue line debate? I know you said you’re not speaking for the commission, and I can appreciate that. That said, you are a commissioner, and this is this very intense debate that’s going on, where the commission issued a directive. It’s a lawful directive. And there is this defiance of this directive, and it’s kind of landed on what some see as a capitulation—where the commission and the police are saying we’re going to take time to do this. And so, how do you see that? Is it a capitulation? Is it a compromise? As an individual commissioner, how do you see that?

Chief Neufeld, actually, he talked to me about something a long time ago. Well, not a long time ago—time is relative to me now. But we spoke about the concept of policing by consent. Essentially the idea was that for policing to work for law, for society to work—I’m extrapolating a little bit now—but this idea, it only works, if everybody to some degree agrees that the rules, the structures, they make sense, that they’re here for a good reason, that they support us for a good reason. If everybody agrees to follow the rules because we all are on the same page about them being the best—that’s going to produce the best outcomes for us all. If we all consent to this, then doing these jobs gets easier. Policing gets easier, being a commissioner gets easier, being a councillor gets easier because there’s a trust there.

There’s a trust that I don’t have to agree with something fully, but if I understand that the system that’s in place is here to produce the best outcome, even if it sometimes produces a bad outcome, I still support the system. That’s the concept of consent. We’re all consenting to live in this society together.

The fear is that one day—let’s say what if I went—I’ll put my teacher hat on real quick. What if one day, I’m teaching a class and all my students decide that they don’t want to be in my class anymore. They get up and leave. I can’t teach a class anymore, and whatever authority I have is gone because no one has agreed to share it with me anymore. It’s gone. It’s out there. So, there is this honest conversation that has to be had that the only reason this commission—the concept of a commission works, the only reason a concept of anything works is that you have to get the people that are underneath you to support and agree that the system works, that it’s there for a reason.

That’s actually what we—that’s kind of the ongoing conversation is now there was an active push to not consent to a commission’s direction. And I know how people would view it. They would view it as a—I understand why people might say it’s a capitulation, but what authority do we have when we don’t agree together that this is the right thing for society. And I think that is the ongoing conversation right now because commission has not at all backed down from the fact that the directive was the right thing to do. And again, it’s a long conversation, long before I even got there, with a wide variety of very intelligent lived experiences sitting on that commission that came to the same conclusion, that this is not something that we want to have on our bodies even though most officers are not wearing it for any malicious dog whistle. It’s just that fact that if you can’t control that message, we’ve got to talk about taking it off.

So, how do you approach that? How do you honestly approach that? Do you approach it with an attempt to actually—you’re witnessing someone feel antagonized by you, do you antagonize them back? That’s one way. Do you witness someone who feels antagonized by you, do you enforce your way out of it? That’s another. Or do you call in first, offer that education one last time, and then try and plot a path forward together? And that has been the decision of commission as a whole. We’ve got to call people in first because we’ve got to all agree at the end of the day that the system that we have, it’s there for a reason and it works. It has worked, we just have to kind of find our way back to it and find our way through that path forward.

That doesn’t—that’s not an easy pill to swallow for many people, myself included. But commission is—the whole purpose of it is that it’s not just one person. It’s several people with several skills. So while I might find my own personal challenges just as a citizen when looking upon some of these decisions, I recognize that, just like being generous to the protestors, we should offer generosity first, and then start figuring out what our options are next after that.

It begs the question of: At what point does that run out? At what point does the proverbial hammer come down?

Those are questions that I personally will eventually ask of my commission members. I don’t want to speak for them. I don't know if they want to ask that question but I know that’s something that is even on my own mind as well too, just again, as an individual. Because you have to—even I know.

Like we talked, I’m a little generous to some of the people when I was doing the calling. Something that I’m very, very—I hold this line really close to myself when I talk about, you’ve got to know your boundaries. You have to know what your line is. You’ve got to know where you feel like you’re compromising your own ethics. I think that’s something that everybody has to have, so I think that’s just a question that, it’s always there in the back of my mind as a councillor, just in general. Like, where is the boundary that we want to set when we’re having these conversations. These are questions that I’ll ask as time moves on, but I don't think we’re there yet.

Even when you’re hypercritical of a system, do you believe in it?

Courtney Walcott,

Ward 8 Councillor

You brought up that matter of consent and trust. Trust underlies so much of what we’re talking about, whether it’s what happened in the beltline, the situation with the thin blue line. And as you say, the whole concept of policing is predicated on public trust, and I just find it very interesting to see the fragility of that come into focus the way it has in recent months, where it’s like: Will this hold? Will public support of the police hold? Will these institutions hold? That issue of consent kind of underlies it all.

Yeah, again it’s that general understanding of even when you’re hypercritical of a system, do you believe in it? It doesn’t mean you have to believe in it as it is. You can believe in a form of it that it could become. Frankly, you can believe in a form that it once was. I think we’ve seen this with many times, where society shifts in a direction and you’re just like, oh, I wish we could go back. I wish it was like this, or I wish we didn’t make X mistake, Y mistake, so on.

So, whenever people ask me about these questions, people are very critical of me because of my work with Defund2Fund. I’ve had enough people make the joke at my expense that they will just say I hate the police. And I’m like, I’ve never really understood. When I look at the messaging that I’ve put out there into the world, I’m like, I don’t hate anyone. I believe that when we look at these institutions that are in absolute control of public safety—and public safety is a wide umbrella, but when we look at these institutions that hold such power and such strength in our society that criticism is warranted because we know we can improve. We know we can get better.

And sometimes criticism is hard to piece out from—I don’t want to say hate because it’s not hate, but it’s when legitimate criticisms are tied up in passion and emotion, sometimes it’s hard to actually separate when someone is screaming at you with what they’re screaming at you. Underneath it all is a valid concern that should be addressed because sometimes all you hear is the noise. All you hear is the volume, all you hear is the emotion, the aggression, but it’s what’s underneath that.

We started this with those three days of hearings. And I remember I challenged people. I was really mad at some of the council at the time for how they responded to people because I felt like there wasn’t training involved. Like, you didn’t know how to be to not take it personal. If someone’s screaming at you, they’re not screaming at you as an individual, unless of course you’ve done something to them. That’s different. But when they’re screaming about the system of racism—systemic racism within institutions and so on—if they’re screaming at that, they’re screaming at 150, 200, 500 years of history laid out in the policies of today. They’re screaming at all of these worldwide circumstances that are playing out on their physical body, on their mind, on their mental health, on their emotions, on the livelihoods of their family and so on. They’re screaming at everything. And they might be looking at you. I might be looking you in the eyes while I’m screaming, but it actually doesn’t have anything to do with you.

So, some people have the ability to recognize that. Some people have the ability to take a step back to actually absorb this because we know that it’s—we need to actually give people cathartic space to get these things off their chest. We need to do that. Some people have the ability to absorb it and then let the emotion go, but hold onto the criticism that is valid. The systemic part that needs to change, they can hold onto that and they can act on it. Others can’t separate the fact that when someone might be yelling at a system, that somehow they’re yelling at you. And if you don’t have the ability to separate that, then the change that we’re talking about is going to be real hard.

And I think that’s the next step is just trying to remind people that feel attacked that it’s not really about you. It’s about the whole system that is much older than you and will be here much long after you, and we’re just trying to determine what form it exists in from this day forward. We don’t need it to be what it was yesterday, we need it to be something new for tomorrow to create that better, equitable future.

I actually have no concept if I answered your question. I went on a little bit of a tangent there.

When you said that, it made me think again about the thin blue line thing because we are seeing that response, where it’s very personal, it’s very visceral. For a lot of cops, they’re saying this is to honor officers who have lost their lives in service and how dare you take that away from me. This is what it means to me.

But what I see happening is there’s been another story introduced, which is: hey, actually, okay, this is what it means to you, but here’s also what it means. That might be what it meant to you at a certain point, and maybe that’s what it means to you now, but—

Sorry. I want to tweak something, actually, a little bit. I want to tweak something very quickly.

Sure.

And this is like a huge thing for me. Sorry, you just hit on one of my pet peeves. I didn’t take anything from you. The commission didn’t take anything from you. White supremacists took it from you. It’s such an important thing that I’ve been trying to get across to people. It’s like, no, we didn’t take it from you. We didn’t change the meaning. We didn’t co-opt the thin blue line, we didn’t do anything. Commission didn’t do anything. White supremacists took it from you. And if that is not framed accurately—because who are you fighting? You don’t want to—we’re not fighting equity-seeking groups. We’re fighting the fact that people who are actually trying to empower inequities in an attempt to maintain status, in an attempt to maintain privilege, they have co-opted that symbol. They have tweaked its meaning. They’ve tainted it.

I didn’t take anything from you. The commission didn’t take anything from you. White supremacists took it from you.

Courtney Walcott,

Ward 8 Councillor

That’s something that I really do—I don’t think it’s discussed enough is that this was taken from people—or, people who wore that patch earnestly, it was taken from them, just not by commission. It was taken from them by white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, who raided the capitol, who would fly it in the face of Black Lives Matter as almost a satirical joke that said, Black lives that have been taken through police brutality don’t matter. Even like the Blue Lives Matter commentary that was all done in retaliation, no one forced anyone to do that. Someone took it from you. It wasn’t us. It was people with malice in their heart. And I always got to reframe that.

I wonder if that could shift the conversation a bit in a good way if that was considered in that way, rather than kind of the headline, soundbite—”commission’s trying to take this meaningful symbol away,” etcetera.

That’s why I’m open to the conversation. I understand that people are seeking enforcement. I know what I believe, but at the end of the day, these are—the police are the public, the public are the police. So, it’s like we have to be able to talk to each other. And I don’t think for a long time anybody has been willing to talk to each other, so I will, as an individual, and as a commissioner, not speaking on behalf of all of commission, I will be always ready for that conversation, to provide that generosity because I think that’s going to produce better outcomes for people in need.

The people that make up the 12 bodies on commission are people who were chosen because they bring skills to the table that is valuable in the landscape of the public good, and I think that is something that sometimes gets lost in the emotion, of the feelings of the work. But those 12 commissioners, the 11 people that I sit beside, they’re looking for better outcomes for the public. You can’t emphasize enough the significance of that as the core of what commission is as an oversight body, that we just have to try and find a way to get to those better outcomes. Sometimes we’ll disagree, but that’s it.

And underpinning that—honestly, this is my teacher hat again—underpinning that is that you have to have a relationship with the people you have authority over because you have to have that bidirectional consent that we’re here for the right reasons. That takes time to develop. Sometimes is frays, sometimes it snaps, sometimes it breaks, but it’s never really gone because you can always find a way forward in a variety of different ways. And I think we’ve seen that historically.

I also have to ask you about this strange situation with your council colleague, Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra, who has been very vocal and critical of the police—maybe more sharply that you have. And has certainly not held back on the thin blue line issue. And now, there’s a situation where he was walking his dog and there was this altercation with a driver, and now he’s under police investigation. Some folks have said this is deeply concerning, suggesting police are going after their critics, on commission and off. Do you have any concerns around that?

The situation that Councillor Carra’s in is just bad timing in many ways. The narratives that are out there are challenging ones to quantify because I think it comes back in some ways to that core of trust. There’s a degree of convenience to the narrative here, and if you can’t trust that the system works, then of course—then, that’s the type of story that’ll be told about the whole—it all seemed to happen really quickly.

But at the core of it, I just wish Councillor Carra could find himself in a little bit of a better position. Because it’s just real bad luck to be almost hit by a car, find yourself in a position like this, and have to recuse yourself from good work that you believe is going to change the city for the better.

We’ve talked about the conversations that are going to happen and whatnot—but what do you see as the best case scenario in all this, particularly around the thin blue line? And I’d also throw this out there. The thin blue line has become this really entrenched conflict, and it’s a headline-grabber because you have these institutions that are facing off over it, and so everybody’s fixated on it. But there’s also the question of: Is that what we should be fixating on? Is it overshadowing more important issues? I’d be curious how you see that.

Yeah. I think it absolutely is overshadowing more important issues and discussions, but I actually think that’s partially why it’s come to this kind of precipice is because this is, again, a way of describing a very, very complex issue. You know, I said this earlier, actually, too, I said it earlier that if someone can offer you all of the troubles in the world in a reduced flag that you can wave. And say the complexities of everything that’s going on, if someone can give me a flag to wave that can just simplify it all, that many people will reach out and grab that flag. I believe that that’s what this is as well. That there’s some very, very complex issues that are at hand, and sometimes it’s hard to distill that into one particular headline. But distilling it all into the symbolism of the patch and what it means, maybe this is a flag that can be waved in lieu of what some people feel is many other flags that also need to be waved, so a much more complex, larger issue.

Jeremy Klaszus is editor-in-chief of The Sprawl.

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