Arthur Christopher Schaper: Standing (or Dancing) with Tony Lepore
There’s a crazy article on BuzzFeed called “The 24 Most Rhode Island Things to ever happen.” The highlights include two-time (and two-timing) mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci, a guy in his skivvies dancing in Woonsocket, and the Big Blue Bug drinking an Awful Awful. Slide #12 arrested my attention (pun intended), featuring “The Dancing Cop.”
Really? A cop dancing in the street is so Rhode Island?
He’s a big deal in the Ocean State, dancing since 1984, and continues to bust a move (and bad driving) since he retired from the Providence police force in 1989, entertaining crowds at Christmastime ever since. I finally connected with the prancing law enforcement officer on Facebook, Tony Lepore, Sr., is his real name; he is the real deal and took me on.
The Boston Globe featured him in a video article, too: “Dancing cop, still traffic jamming at 64.”
“He is an icon for Providence,” one observer remarked. The kids love him — love watching him dance — and then they try imitating his moves. Check out his Facebook avatar, posing with two young ones. In the larger photo, you will find him teaching young people how to dance. But directing Providence traffic is not just fun and games for Lepore: “It’s an important job, because it’s people’s safety,” Lepore reminds the reporter. “You can’t be lackadaisical going out there.”
Coordination is the name of the game. Keep traffic flowing and have fun while doing it. Obeying the rules, keeping people safe, means more people can have fun. A bigger principle emerges out of this event: Peace, prosperity, and joy are impossible without law and order, without clear parameters to define the accepted and prohibited. No one can play if anything goes.
In a nation where the rule of law faces unprecedented attacks (viz. No Enforcement, No Peace), the bright example of a smiling cop keeping residents and drivers safe and sound brings hope as well as holiday cheer.
Then I heard about his recent termination from the Providence Police Department, or rather the city’s craven, politically motivated move not to bring him in for Christmas 2015. Fox News Insider reports:
For more than 30 years, retired Rhode Island Police Officer Tony Lepore has brought good cheer to the city of Providence with the famous dance moves he’d perform while directing holiday traffic.
But he was turned down for the job this season because he protested a Dunkin Donuts restaurant whose employee had written #BlackLivesMatter on a cop’s coffee cup.
This rude behavior toward police was not an isolated incident. In West Hartford, Connecticut, a Dunkin’ Donuts employee rebuffed an officer: “We don’t serve cops here.” When the Providence, Rhode Island, Dunkin’ Donuts wrote the hashtag insult instead of the officer’s name, Lepore learned about it and boycotted the shop. His fans followed suit, and then the national press picked up the piece. When the Dancing Cop demanded an apology from the company, the Providence police force (under the thumb of liberal progressive political machine) let Lepore go.
Another cop pushed aside, and why? “The Providence Police Department said Lepore misrepresented the department and committed a “disservice” to the city.”
Police are under attack throughout the country, and Lepore was bringing attention to this issue. “I did it for the street cops, because I worry about them.” His concerns are well-founded. Last year, two of New York City’s finest were gunned down point blank. The union blamed the current liberal, progressive mayor’s anti-authoritarian policies. During the funeral services, the officers turned their back on De Blasio. The New York Times has an extensive list of columns covering cop-related attacks. Two months ago, a Texas off-duty police officer was targeted and killed. Police in Seattle, Washington, recognize a new world for law enforcement following the uptick in assassinations of police officers. Just last week, in Downey, California (one of the safest, most upscale cities in the state), officer Ricardo Galvez was gunned down cold by underage offenders. In Colorado Springs, another police officer fell in the line of duty.
The dust-up following the #BlackLivesMatter hit on a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup is just too much. Let’s state the facts plainly; Rhode Islanders and all Americans should take notice, too. This Black Lives Matter movement, and now the fallout of one of Providence’s finest, is more than a spat over who speaks for whom in a municipality. This is a left-wing assault writ large, an attack on law and order, authority and integrity, respect, leadership, coordination, and fun.
Lepore’s interaction among kids is more than just good community building. He fosters respect for the police in general, and teaches citizens from youth upwards not to view law enforcement with mistrust, but cooperation, as public servants trying to keep the cities safe and make the world a better place. The Left and its violent allies in Black Lives Matter oppose these values.
This time, they picked the wrong fight, and more people all over the country are standing with Tony. And so will I. Enough is enough. #BlueLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter, and so does Tony’s.
Keep dancing, Dancing Cop!
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a blogger, writer, and commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow his blogs at The State of the Union and As He Is, So Are We Ministries and on Twitter.