The younger generations today may not be familiar with the Vietnam War’s infamous My Lai Massacre. On March 16, 1968, a company of American soldiers went on a rampage, killing hundreds of Vietnamese civilians, including women and children, committing other heinous crimes along the way, including rape and the mutilation of bodies.
I find myself thinking about My Lai during these troubled times of racist violence perpetrated by the police upon our citizens. Because at My Lai an American helicopter pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson Jr., saw what was happening and did what he could to stop it—including telling his crew to open fire on their fellow soldiers if those soldiers fired upon the women, children, and old men that Thompson was trying to evacuate. Thompson and his crew were awarded various medals for their heroism.
The story of Hugh Thompson Jr. should be required reading for police officers. If we are to stem the tide of murders committed by the cops, we need other cops to follow in Thompson’s footsteps. We need cops who will put themselves between citizens and the guns of other cops when they recognize a cop has lost control. And, really, how good a cop are you if you stand by while a fellow cop does bad things and you don’t try to stop it?