By Steve Hunley

I’m not sure how many others in our community have noticed it, but Knoxville is becoming a microcosm of what is happening nationally.  The trifecta of leftist politicians, the mainstream media and Big Tech conspire to stifle free speech and silence those who do not agree with them.  All of them relentlessly pursue a narrative that is frequently just not true.  According to the trifecta of the leftists, the mainstream news media and Big Tech, the summer of 2020 was the “Summer of Peaceful Protests.”  Those “peaceful protests” left $2 billion in damages which will come out of your insurance premiums and mine.  Federal buildings were set on fire, churches and businesses burned, people killed.  Ultra-leftists, some of them armed, set up “autonomous zones” inside American cities, on American soil, yet the only time the leftists will utter the word “treason” is during the riots” at the Capitol.  Law enforcement agencies were not allowed to protect the people and property of individuals during the “peaceful protests” but those on Capitol Hill certainly weren’t without protection.  Congress employs its own police force and had the national guard surrounding Capitol Hill for some time there after for good measure.  Diversion and deflection have become standard operating procedure for the left and their allies.

Gannett owns a newspaper in every major city in Tennessee with the exception of Chattanooga.  The Knoxville News-Sentinel is owned by Gannett and the media megalodon owns newspapers in Johnson City, Clarksville, Nashville, Jackson and Memphis as well.  Gannett, like virtually every other member of the mainstream media, has bought into the notion everything in this country comes down to race.  An adult woman, unarmed, was shot and killed during the riots at the Capitol and very little has been written or said about it.  The tragedy of a young man armed with a gun, was killed by a Black police officer at Austin – East High School.  That has spiraled into a continuing debate that has occupied much time and attention from local media.

The shooting of Anthony Thompson, Jr. followed several other shootings in East Knoxville in the vicinity of Austin-East; all of the victims were young adults.  These were indescribable losses to the families of the victims and the community.  There is reason to believe some of these murders were gang-related.  Some of the arrests made have been little short of awful; the accused perpetrators are themselves children.  Yet, Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon jerked the 14 Knoxville Police Department officers from those schools inside the city limits.

As this is written, school board members are awaiting word from Indya Kincannon on what exactly the City of Knoxville will do about keeping KPD officers inside schools within the city limits.  The City of Knoxville hasn’t been in the school business in ages and under Mayor Victor Ashe aggressively annexed as much sale tax producing territory as possible, which bolstered the city’s revenues and took away money from the school system.  Immediately after taking over responsibility for the schools, Knox County had to invest millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to remove the asbestos from city school buildings and air condition them.

With the withdrawal of the KPD from the schools inside the city, Kincannon abruptly announced the Knoxville Police Department was withdrawing from the Memorandum of Agreement between the Knox County Schools system, the KPD and the Sheriff’s Department.  The Great Incompetent evidently consulted no one before her announcement.  A goodly number of parents, faculty, staff and students have been dismayed and outraged by Kincannon’s decision.  School will be opening the middle of August and the Great Incompetent has been fortunate inasmuch as much of the public debate has occurred around the question of the school system hiring an outside “facilitator” to assist the board of education in having a conversation with the very people who elected it.  That idea was the brainchild of board member Daniel Watson and the folks at the Knoxville News-Sentinel seem to be promoting the narrative that everything was hunky-dory and every member of the board of education simply loved Watson’s idea until Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs came along and upset the applecart.  First of all, the only person who thought there was some consensus to hire an outside facilitator was Dan Watson and that is likely because he never seems to listen to anyone but himself.  Rather, Watson seems to be thinking about what he’s going to say next instead of hearing what is being said.  Clearly, for anyone who could hear, other members of the board had some serious reservations about hiring a facilitator.  That idea was pushed along by a handful of leftwing groups locally and when Mayor Jacobs stated the obvious and criticized the idea of spending taxpayer dollars on someone to direct the conversation as a waste of money, the wheels flew off the goat wagon.  Jacobs was, of course, right.  For the better part of the last two months, the board has been preoccupied with tossing Watson’s idea back and forth instead of focusing on the more important issue of just what it will do for security in the absence of actual police officers inside those schools in the city.  Board member Mike McMillan pointed out yet another obvious fact: the gun violence near a local school was occurring only in one location.  McMillan said it was not a problem throughout the entire county.  McMillan also reminded his colleagues that using a facilitator for community meetings is not ideal for communicating with board members, much less the only means.  Mike McMillan noted citizens can text, telephone, send emails and letters to board members to state their opinions or share their concerns.  Yet that is not the preferred method of leftwing community activists who are less interested in resolving a problem than trying to mold public opinion and diminishing law enforcement any way they can do so.  Of course Daniel Watson and his few allies on the board of education had not counted on Kincannon, the Great Incompetent, to jerk the KPD officers out of the schools in the middle of their proposed community dialogue.  It certainly changed the tone of the conversation.

Yet the Knoxville News-Sentinel wants to leave the impression Mayor Jacobs somehow inserted himself into the conversation and curdled the solidarity of the board of education.  That is, to be polite, a fantasy.  Never happened.  The mayor is the chief administrative officer of the county and, like the members of the board of education, has an obligation to the taxpayers.  As long as I’ve been around, I don’t recall the News-Sentinel ever worrying about what the taxpayers could afford or how much they were taxed to pay for it.  Now Tyler Whetstone has been prodded to push along another mega-story about racism inside the Knoxville Police Department.  Whetstone tells us there are only 19 Black police officers out of “roughly 375” in the KPD.  As Whetstone points out in his story, KPD has the budget to employ as many as 416 officers, yet they are having difficulty enlisting recruits.  Now there’s something we don’t hear much about.  The “peaceful protests” of the summer saw law enforcement officers sidelined, neither allowed to serve or protect; we have marketing behemoth Amazon allowing the sale of tee shirts bearing the disgusting legend “Blue Lives Murder,” and we have seen the lives of police officers targeted and killed.  Yet, the News-Sentinel is talking about quotas and percentages.  Perhaps a more interesting percentage would be how many law enforcement officers are we actually recruiting?  How many young men and women, Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian do you suppose are entering law enforcement as a profession these days?  And do you think you’ll give a hoot about the skin color or ethnicity of a responding officer if your life is in danger or you or a loved one has been hurt?  Police officers in this country have been denigrated and treated with utter disrespect and it is shameful.  The very same people who cry defund the police are those who claim they want to have a conversation while we ignore the real problem.  We’re talking about how to manage law enforcement professionals while school starts in a matter of a month and a half.  While leftists try and deny it, actions always have consequences and they won’t be able to cancel the fearsome toll our folly will bring.  As police officers retire, or quit and young men and women refuse to consider it as a career, it leaves the most vulnerable elements of society exposed.  Nor will it ultimately empower anyone but the predators amongst us.