By Dave Lindorff
Watch a thug NYPD cop tackle Blake instead of identifying himself as a cop (
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By Dave Lindorff
If tennis great James Blake had done the obvious thing and resisted being tackled by an apparent thug on a New York sidewalk who didn't identify himself as a cop before attacking him, he would probably be dead today like Eric Garner, or at least seriously injured or tased.
Blake, a well-known black athlete who not too long ago was the fourth-ranked tennis player in the world, was just leaning against the front of the Grand Hyatt where he was staying in midtown Manhattan when four undercover cops, who claim they "mistook" him for the suspect in a credit-card fraud case, walked towards him, whereupon one of them, James Frascatore, suddenly jumped him, threw him to the ground face first, climbed on top of him, yanked his arms behind his back and cuffed him, in the process causing minor injuries to an elbow and eye (injuries that are no small matter for an athlete!).
There is so much wrong with what happened to Blake it's hard to know where to begin. In a surveillance video, Blake can be seen just resting there on the sidewalk and actually smiling at the men approaching him, he says, because he assumed, as a celebrity, that they were fans who had recognized him and were coming to greet him. Blake, a Harvard grad, was calm and relaxed, not armed, and not at all acting like someone who planned to flee. There was, in other words, absolutely no reason for the officers not to simply identify themselves and ask politely to see his identification. Even then, if at that point they still suspected him, they could have taken him peacefully to the station for questioning, as they would ordinarily do had he been a well-dressed white guy, instead of a well-dressed black guy.
NYPD Chief Bill Bratton has apologized to Blake for the outrageous incident, as has Mayor Bill DeBlasio. At least Frascatore, who was particularly brutal on the video that captured the assault, has been pulled off the street and put on "administrative duties" by the chief, who said he was "disturbed" by the video. But Bratton insists that Blake is wrong to think that what happened to him had anything to do with his race, despite the fact that his assailants were all white. And besides, what about Frascatore's three partners. They clearly should have stopped his unprovoked assault on Blake, but instead clearly did nothing. Why aren't they being pulled off duty?
Bratton certainly knows better about the role of racism in this incident. His statement that race wasn't involved is laughable. He knows full well that Frascatore, the cop who tackled Blake instead of just identifying himself a cop and asking politely for Blake's identification, has a four-year history of complaints about abusive behavior -- behavior for which neither the cop nor Bratton has ever apologized. Want to guess the race of the victims of that abuse?
How many white bankers or stockbrokers get thrown on the ground and cuffed when they are busted for their crimes? Was Bernie Madoff tacked and pushed face down on the sidewalk while he was cuffed? Think about it -- have you ever seen a well-heeled white guy of Blake's stature and appearance treated that way when police need to question, or even arrest him? Even mobster John Gotti, known as the Dapper Don, wasn't tackled like that when he was busted!
It just doesn't happen. In fact, well-healed white guys, if they're cuffed at all during an arrest, generally don't even have their hands cuffed behind their backs, where they become vulnerable to falls. While police always claim that painful and dangerous procedure is "regulation procedure," the tonier white suspects always seem to get to keep their hands cuffed in front of them, where they can discretely drape a jacket over them to hide the embarrassing looking cuffs from any lurking paparazzi camera.
There is, in other words, an incredible double standard in American policing, and Bratton and DeBlasio both know it. In fact, this dichotomy should properly be called apartheid.
Just recently, in a powerful essay, Bradley Burton, an editor of Ha'aretz, a leading Israeli newspaper, wrote that after years of denial, he felt he had to accuse his country, Israel, of being an apartheid nation. He wrote:
I used to be one of those people who took issue with the label of apartheid as applied to Israel. I was one of those people who could be counted on to argue that, while the country's settlement and occupation policies were anti-democratic and brutal and slow-dose suicidal, the word apartheid did not apply.
I'm not one of those people any more. Not after the last few weeks.
Not after terrorists firebombed a West Bank Palestinian home, annihilating a family, murdering an 18-month-old boy and his father, burning his mother over 90 percent of her body -- only to have Israel's government rule the family ineligible for the financial support and compensation automatically granted Israeli victims of terrorism, settlers included.