No rational person can look at what happened — more accurately, what didn’t happen — in Uvalde and use the term “police response” with a straight face.
Can we even call this a failure? It feels more like dereliction of duty, the greatest collective act of cowardice in modern American history.
And the powers that be in Texas continue to lie, deflect and defend the police who stood aside, literally, for over an hour as an active shooter terrorized Robb Elementary in Uvalde.
That’s Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin — not assailing those spineless officers but rather local news outlets for releasing this footage.
Whoever leaked absolutely did the right thing: Uvalde officials cannot be trusted to do the right thing, as the video proves.
To watch the first few minutes — to see a little boy spy the gunman from around a corner and run the other way, to see the gunman turn left, disappear from view, and then to hear the pure firepower of an assault rifle as it’s aimed at fourth-graders — is to get viscerally, unforgettably close to this particular American horror.
With one caveat: The screams and cries of the children have been edited out.
Why that is, is obvious. But the cynicism on display by Uvalde officials, the pure cover-your-ass machinations in effect, is to wonder if we’re that far gone — if the only way to do right by these littlest victims is to hear them.
Because cops on the scene that day did not.
Police were there in three minutes, for all the good they did. Watch them run for cover as gunfire erupts.
The kind of American heroism epitomized by the firefighters and first responders who entered the World Trade Center and climbed those stairs, knowing they might never survive, feels so distant now. We may as well be talking about the Greatest Generation.
The police in Robb Elementary’s hallway bear no relation to valor, sacrifice, bravery, or the notion of policing as a calling rather than career. A shooter hides down the hall as they pat each other on the back, pace up and down, all passivity and reactivity, children and teachers bleeding out, the gunman blasting music.
If only we could hear the audio as one cop leans against the wall, as another stops at a dispenser and avails himself of hand sanitizer.
Most of these children were identified by the clothes they wore or through parental DNA. That’s the catastrophic damage an assault weapon does to a face.
Yet these officers, on site at a massacre, look like they’re waiting for a prescription to be filled at CVS or their driver’s license to be renewed. There’s that little in their expressions.
Police aggression, we know, was turned only on parents trying to get into the school, to do what these officers would not: try to save their children.
Eleven-year-old Miah Cerillo was watching “Lilo and Stitch” in her classroom when the shooter opened fire, killing both of her teachers before spraying the children with rapid-fire ammunition. She and her friend found the courage to grab her teacher’s cell phone and call 911.Then she covered herself in a dead classmate’s blood and played dead herself. She told CNN it felt like three hours before the cops came. Through tears, Miah told the outlet that “she just didn’t understand why [the police] didn’t come inside and rescue them.”
No thinking, feeling American does either.
While the gunman secluded himself in a classroom with dead bodies, police fretted for a master key. The classroom was unlocked.
These officers were engaged in busywork. To quote Mark Twain: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
Miah Cerillo is more courageous than the cops sent to save her. Uvalde’s mayor, attorney general and the City of Uvalde itself are complicit; as of June 18, 148 public records requests regarding the shooting and response were denied. The city retained a private law firm for that purpose, arguing that such records could be “highly embarrassing.”
Of course they could. That’s the point.
Full transparency — all the body cams, 911 calls, video surveillance, texts and communications between police and border patrol and any other agencies and officials involved, during and after the fact — is the only way forward. If ever there was a black-and-white decision to be made, this is it. A federal investigation, the holding to account of those who failed public safety and trust, who failed fourth-graders and their teachers, isn’t just about doing right by the families.
It’s to prepare for, and send a message to, the next school shooter. Who is all but certain to have watched this video.