Reprinted from greenshadowcabinet.us
Stop the NYPD Coup and Create the Police-Community Relationship We Want to See
Do the police serve the city or are they a law unto themselves? This is an issue of concern throughout the country but it has come into crisp focus in New York.
The conflict in New York City spurred by the death of Eric Garner and the failure of a Staten Island grand jury to indict the police officer who choked him to death; followed by the killing of two police officers, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, by a deranged person has sharpened the conflict over policing in New York. The NYPD is trying to bully Mayor Bill de Blasio as they have done with almost all previous mayors. It is time for the mayor and city to stand up to police bullying.
The Deaths of Two Police Bring Out Police Mis-Leadership
Regarding the deaths of two police officer Andy Cush wrote in Gawker: "The tragedy was an immediate and clarifying humanization of a profession whose incompetents and villains had dominated the news." Unfortunately, Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, ruined the opportunity for humanizing the NYPD when he attacked the mayor, claiming he had "blood on his hands" and blamed the #BlackLivesMatter protests for the deaths. This patently false extreme rhetoric, divided people rather than uniting them.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement, had a very different reaction, it expressed remorse over the deaths of the police in multiple statements. Activists participated in an impromptu candlelight silent march to show their sadness at the deaths. And, one of Eric Garner's daughters visited with the family of Officer Ramos and laid flowers at the memorial of the two officers. While protesters did not heed the urging of Mayor de Blasio to stop protesting, they showed that their movement was about justice, not about revenge; about nonviolence not more violence.
The police also did not listen to the mayor's request to stop protests and made divisions in the city worse when they showed disrespect for Mayor de Blasio at the funerals of the officers as well as at the hospital after the shooting and at a recent graduation of cadets. Turning their backs and booing a mayor who had tried to calm the situation showed petulance on the part of police and disrespect for the officers.
A backlash is growing against the police for their actions. The New York Times wrote a strong editorial denouncing the police actions:
"Mr. de Blasio isn't going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department's credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments -- a funeral of a fallen colleague -- and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backs on Mr. Ramos's widow and her two young sons, and others in that grief-struck family. . .
"But none of those grievances can justify the snarling sense of victimhood that seems to be motivating the anti-de Blasio campaign -- the belief that the department is never wrong, that it never needs redirection or reform, only reverence. This is the view peddled by union officials like Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association -- that cops are an ethically impeccable force with their own priorities and codes of behavior, accountable only to themselves, and whose reflexive defiance in the face of valid criticism is somehow normal."
Another police tactic was to stop enforcing the law. Lynch commanded his union members to institute a slowdown -- a virtual work stoppage. Matt Taibbi describes this in Rolling Stone writing that minor "arrests have dropped off a staggering 94 percent, with overall arrests plunging 66 percent. If you're wondering exactly what that means, the New York Post is reporting that the protesting police have decided to make arrests 'only when they have to.' (Let that sink in for a moment. Seriously, take 10 or 15 seconds)."
Taibbi goes on to describe how arresting people in poor communities is really an alternative to raising taxes or cutting budgets. We've seen this same type of "fundraising" in Ferguson, MO where it is incredibly abusive. No doubt this is common, but unreported, throughout much of the nation. The idea that police should "only make arrests when they have to" is a good police policy as there is an over-reliance on arrests and they are often for actions where a warning would be better than an arrest.
Worse, Lynch promised two different standards for "friends" and "enemies" leading the usually pro-police NY Daily News to editorialize:
"But urging courtesy for 'our friends' and 'extreme discretion' for 'our enemies' while on the job suggests two standards of enforcement in a city that counts on the police for equal protection."