David Mitchell

Let’s not forget all the decent cops out there

[Getty Images]

One victim of police brutality is police decency. Our son has a tutor, J., who works with autistic kids in our corner of West Cork. After lockdown began, she was no longer able to work with her students, one of whom had a birthday coming up in March. The boy lives in Bandon, 15 miles away, so J. phoned our local garda station to ask for permission to drive beyond the lockdown radius to deliver a small gift and card. The garda on duty gave her a polite no, as birthdays weren’t on the list of exemptions. Fair enough. Twenty minutes later, the sergeant called J. back. He had to visit the Bandon garda station that afternoon, so if she could bring him the gift, he would hand it on to a colleague in Bandon, who would deliver it at the boy’s house on his way home that evening. Mission accomplished. All this may sound like the plot to a kid’s TV show, but for a non-verbal autistic kid whose routines and connections are a reality-map, that garda’s act of kindness was a big deal. It wasn’t done for press coverage or approving tweets, but because the gardi who made it happen are decent human beings. Cut to: a video of a white supremacist cop in Minneapolis killing an unarmed African American by crushing his windpipe for nine minutes. Policing rural Ireland is easier, no doubt, than policing urban America, but whatever the context, let’s not let the worst besmirch the best.

I’m always a bit ‘Oh aye?’ about diarists who use their 850 words to plug a new novel: but honest, dear reader, the biggest splash in my locked-down world this week was an online conversation for the Hay Digital Festival with publisher, pig-farmer and Renaissance Man John Mitchinson.

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