They resigned in protest. Not in protest of shoving an old man for no discernible reason, leading him to crack his head on the pavement.

They resigned to protest the discipline for the cop who shoved him.

Who, by the way, hasn’t even been fired. He’s been suspended.

You can understand their dilemma, though. How can they do their jobs effectively if they can’t make senior citizens bleed from the ears without provocation?

All 57 of the members of the Buffalo Police Department’s Emergency Response Team resigned Friday from the unit which responds to riots and other crowd control situations, the president of the union that represents Buffalo police officers told The Buffalo News…

“Our position is these officers were simply following orders from Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia to clear the square,” said Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President John Evans. “It doesn’t specify clear the square of men, 50 and under or 15 to 40. They were simply doing their job. I don’t know how much contact was made. He did slip in my estimation. He fell backwards.”

“These guys did nothing but do what they were ordered to do. This is disgusting!!!” the local police union posted on its homepage. Bear in mind, the clip that I posted this morning of the old man toppling over after he was shoved has been viewed 70 million times since last night. A large chunk of the entire country has seen it by now. Do these people have any idea what message they’re sending when they tell the public, which knows full well what happened to this grandpa, that they were “doing their job” by treating him that way and “simply following orders”?

They’re telling them that anything goes when you approach a cop who’s not in the mood to be approached, no matter how unthreatening you are.

The 57 cops who resigned today didn’t resign from the force, they resigned from the specific tactical unit to which they were assigned. The local county executive was asked about it today and drew the only reasonable conclusion from the resignations, which is that none of these people see a problem with what happened to the old man:

“When you find a bad cop, it means that he can’t be trusted,” said Jonathan Last of the clip of the old man being shoved. “When you see a gaggle of cops covering for a bad cop, it means the culture is corrupt.” That’s the real lesson from the clip, which I emphasized in this morning’s post. The shove is one thing; the collective indifference from surrounding officers to the welfare of a 75-year-old lying unconscious and bleeding from his head is something else entirely. If there was any shred of doubt that the culture in Buffalo PD is rotten, this afternoon’s resignations should remove it. An ethical officer wouldn’t object to discipline in this case. An officer who’s been trained by his union to think of himself as part of a gang and to use collective action to protect his most abusive colleagues would.

If I were the mayor, I’d see the resignations as a good start. Invite them to resign from the force altogether. Invite anyone else who thinks it’s okay to get rough with the elderly and then not render aid immediately to join them. If that thins the ranks of the force temporarily, that’s the price of removing the proverbial “few” bad apples from the bunch. A city of 250,000 people should be able to produce a few thousand willing to maintain order without brutalizing people or looking the other way at brutality inflicted by others. It reminds me of what some people say when you raise the prospect of ending the doctrine of qualified immunity for cops: “But then the police would be liable for their misconduct! No one would want to join the force!”

No one who’s unwilling to answer for his misconduct would want to join, that’s true. That’s the point. It’s not a bug of ending qualified immunity. It’s a feature.

On that note, here’s a clip from Philadelphia to carry us into the weekend. The fat cop you see here swinging for the fences with his nightstick apparently showed “similarly aggressive behavior over several days toward people protesting against oppressive policing.” He may soon face charges of aggravated assault. He makes $125,000 per year.