Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson is winning praise for a holiday message he posted on the Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County website on Friday. The email was directed at police officers concerning the recent protests in Nashville and around America.
Over the last weeks, across the nation, and here in Nashville, we have witnessed many protests and demonstrations. Some of the demonstrations have been peaceful. Some have been violent, with significant property damage. Here in Nashville, persons have gathered to express their thoughts in a non-violent manner. I thank all involved for the peaceful manner in which they have conducted themselves.
In the message, Anderson also defends his peaceful and warm reception of protesters. Last month, as protesters arrived at the front door of police headquarters on James Robertson Parkway, they were greeted with hot chocolate and smiles from Nashville police. Police even shook hands and thanked the demonstrators. Their actions won the praise of black leaders in Nashville.
“Overwhelmingly, in comments that have been directed to me, the public is supportive of your actions,” Anderson wrote to his police force. “Obviously, some have expressed disagreement. Most have stated their disapproval in a well thought out and rational manner. Their thoughts should be respected and given consideration.”
Along with his message, the police chief posted an email of a critical response to his holiday message. “I just want myself and my family to feel that our city is safe, and right now we don’t feel that way,” the email says.
The writer continued on to say that Chief Anderson was too soft on the demonstrators:
I wanted to send you this email to express my frustration and outrage at how the situation of these protesters is being handled in Nashville. The first night protesters marched here after the incidents in Ferguson they never should have been allowed to shut down the interstate. Instead of at least threatening to arrest them, they were served coffee and hot chocolate. I don’t feel that is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. It sends a message that they can do whatever they want and will be rewarded. Then, this past week, more protesters march around downtown for 3 or more hours and once again, no arrests, and it took THP to keep them from getting on the interstate again. Saturday night, marching and “die ins” at Opry Mills mall. How long are we going to allow these people to disrupt our city?
Police Chief Anderson responded to that email with a message asking the writer to “go outside his comfort zone” and start considering all sides of the issue. He also addressed the writer’s concern for safety.
I have to admit, I am somewhat puzzled by this announcement. None of the demonstrators in this city have in any way exhibited any propensity for violence or indicated, even verbally, that they would harm anyone. I can understand how you may feel that your ideologies have been questioned but I am not aware of any occurrence that would give reason for someone to feel physically threatened.
In response to these letters, liberal comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted, “Nashville Police chief Steve Anderson makes me proud to be an American.”
Nashville Police chief Steve Anderson makes me proud to be an American
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) December 27, 2014
You can read the full letters here.