In case you haven't noticed, almost every country in the world has been facing a problem that used to be confined to third-world hellholes: kleptocracy, which means "rule by thieves." In country after country, corrupt banking officials lent out money that they knew was going to be stolen, based on fraudulent loan applications. Usually, bribes were involved. Supposedly, this money was loaned out to build the country up, or to support working people, or to create jobs. But (and surely you've noticed this) at least half of that money ended up doing no such thing; it ended up in the offshore bank accounts of the corrupt bankers, of their personal friends, and of political officials (of all parties) with suspiciously close ties to those corrupt bankers.
As those loans came due, none of the people who stole that money have been asked to pay back more than a tiny portion of those loans, certainly nothing close to what was stolen. So how will those loans be repaid? "Austerity." They will pass laws that stop all the repairs on your kids' schools, that stop updating their textbooks. They will find excuses to seize the money that was set aside to cover your medical expenses and your retirement. They will cut your pay, but raise your rent or mortgage until you are evicted, and then that building will be sold to pay back the banks for the money the kleptocrats "borrowed" and then stole. You think this is the only place that it's happened? We're not even the first country they did this to.
In case you haven't noticed, citizens of every country that fell into kleptocracy have risen up with two demands: the kleptocrats must be brought to justice, and if those loans are to be repaid at all (and given that the banks knew the loan applications were fraudulent, there's no good reason to do so), it must be the thieves, not the people who didn't benefit from those loans, who pay them back.
In case you haven't noticed, you are not the only police officers who have been asked to use as much force as necessary, in order to crack down on trivial ordinance violations, as an excuse to shut those citizens up. Your fellow police have been asked to shut down those protests in every country in Latin America, in every country in the Middle East, in every country in North Africa, and in almost every country in Europe. In country after country, one of three things has happened: the cops obeyed orders and the kleptocrats are getting away with imposing austerity, or else the cops obeyed orders but foreign governments stepped in, citing actual or impending police atrocities, and overthrew the kleptocrats, or else they did something that you chose not to do, this last week or two.
In a few countries, the cops saw that they didn't have the choice of defending the perfectly law abiding, saw that they were being asked to defend criminals, concluded that they could not morally justify obeying the order to shut down the protests, and went home. Few if any of the protesters even asked the police to switch sides and join the protests against kleptocracy. Most of us know that that's an unreasonable request, we know that most of you feel that you owe it to the uniform you wear, and to the oath you took, and to your fellow officers, not to join the protesters. But in the countries where the police, asked to use force to shut down peaceful protests against kleptocracy, took off their uniforms and went home until it was all over? Not just in the Arab (Spring) world, but in places like Iceland? Freedom is on the march. Nor have those countries slid into poverty because they refused to cover the debts that the thieves owed to the dishonest bankers; those countries are recovering from the global recession faster than we are.
But you stood shoulder to shoulder with your brother and sister officers, and either nobody said anything, or else when somebody said something, nobody else stepped forward to back them up. You all decided to obey the orders passed down from the kleptocrats. You enforced municipal ordinances. Some of you, most of you, even did so peacefully and professionally. But you ended the only chance we had to escape ten years or more of austerity rule. So, ten years from now, when your pension has been stolen from you? Ten years from now, when your child or your parent or your spouse gets sick, or you get sick yourself, and you're told there's no money to pay for your health care because we can't tax job creators or penalize too big to fail banks, so that's where the money went? Ten years from now, when you see what your country has turned into after ten more years of CEOs and boards of directors who know that if they steal enough to make themselves "systemically important" they can scoff at every law? This will be your only consolation: you did what everybody else around you was doing, which is what you were told to do. May it give you some comfort.