Nel's New Day

January 7, 2015

Call Out Police Who Fail to ‘Protect and Serve’

Grand juries failed to indict police at least three times during the past few months for suspect shootings, one of the victims holding a piece of Walmart merchandise and the other standing on a sidewalk. In the seven years between 2004 and 2011, charges were filed in only 41 cases of at least 2718 homicides committee by police officers. Conviction rates for cases that go to trial are only half than for all other people. Police are above the law as shown by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Heinen v. North Carolina that police can break the law with impunity if they claim ignorance.

Yet these rights are not enough for the police. Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, has asked for the addition of law enforcement to federal hate crime laws. A mentally disturbed person killed two NYPD officers, and the head of the city’s Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Obama because they told the public that blacks are not safe with all police officers. There are statistics to prove this, but Lynch accused de Blasio of having “blood on his hands.”

Canterbury wants hate crimes based on occupation. He ignored the concept that hate crimes are against people for innate characteristics—sex, race, disability, etc.–except for religion.

In juvenile fashion, officers turned their back on the mayor at the funerals of both murdered police officers and held a work slowdown. As mayor, de Blasio is the boss of NYPD officers, but some misguided cadets booed him when he spoke at their graduation ceremony. Canterbury and Lynch actually want federal laws putting police officers above criticism. By their behavior, some police officers indicate that they consider themselves entitled to any behavior that they choose, arrogantly blaming the civilian for any problems. To these officers, their badge and gun give them any rights, including beating and killing people for no offense.

Today the New York Times published a scathing editorial on NYPD officers’ egregious behavior:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office barely a year, and already forces of entropy are roaming the streets, turning their backs on the law, defying civil authority and trying to unravel the social fabric.

No, not squeegee-men or turnstile-jumpers. We’re talking about the cops.

For the second straight week, police officers across the city have all but stopped writing tickets and severely cut down the number of arrests. The Times reported that in the week ending Sunday, only 347 criminal summonses were issued citywide, down from 4,077 over the same period last year. Parking and traffic tickets were down by more than 90 percent. In Coney Island, ticketing and summonses fell to zero.

The city has been placed in an absurd position, with its police commissioner, William Bratton—a pioneer of “broken windows” policing who has just written a long, impassioned defense of that strategy as an essential crime-fighting tool—leading a force that is refusing to carry it out.

Police union officials deny responsibility for the mass inaction. But Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said officers had talked among themselves and “it became contagious,” apparently like the flu.

Call this what it is: a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy by those who do not set law-enforcement policy. This deplorable gesture is bound to increase tension in a city already rattled over the killing by the police of an unarmed man, Eric Garner, last summer, the executions of two officers in Brooklyn last month, and the shootings on Monday of two plainclothes officers in the Bronx.

Mr. Bratton spoke delicately at a news conference on Monday. He said there could be other explanations, like officers being too busy handling police-reform demonstrations and attending funerals. He promised to investigate—and to “deal with it very appropriately, if we have to.”

Mr. de Blasio’s critics foretold doom when he was elected a year ago. They said graffiti, muggings and other crime would rush back with a vengeance. They were dead wrong — crime rates continued to decline to historic lows in 2014 — but now it seems the cops are trying to help prove them right.

The madness has to stop. The problem is not that a two-week suspension of “broken windows” policing is going to unleash chaos in the city. The problem is that cops who refuse to do their jobs and revel in showing contempt to their civilian leaders are damaging the social order all by themselves.

Mr. de Blasio, who has been cautious since the shootings, found his voice on Monday, saying for the first time that the police officers’ protests of turning their backs at the slain officers’ funerals had been disrespectful to the families of the dead. He was right, but he needs to do more.

He should appeal directly to the public and say plainly that the police are trying to extort him and the city he leads.

If the Police Department’s current commanders cannot get the cops to do their jobs, Mr. de Blasio should consider replacing them. He should invite the Justice Department to determine if the police are guilty of civil rights violations in withdrawing policing from minority communities. He should remind the police that they are public employees, under oath to uphold city and state laws.

If Mr. de Blasio’s critics are right and the city is coming unglued, it is not because of what he has done. He was elected by an overwhelming vote, because he promised action on police reform, starting with the end of stop-and-frisk tactics that corralled so many innocent New Yorkers into the criminal-justice system. The city got the mayor it wanted—and then, because of Mr. de Blasio, it got Mr. Bratton.

Mr. Bratton’s faith in “broken windows” needs rethinking. But nothing will be fixed as long as police officers are refusing to do their jobs.

A video emerged this week of a New York cop, apparently with nothing better to do, horsing around on the hood of a squad car, falling off and hitting his head. It would be hard to invent a more fitting image of the ridiculous—and dangerous—place this atmosphere of sullen insubordination has taken us.

Hugh Sansom commented:

“In October, 2011, the Bronx DA indicted 11 police officers for fixing tickets on behalf of family and friends. PBA members and Patrick Lynch rallied in support of these cop-lawbreakers. As NYC news organizations reported then they jeered at the DA. Some tried to intimidate cameramen. Many held signs saying that fixing tickets was part of the ‘NYPD culture.’ “

Of the 25 black police officers, both past and present, interviewed about being racially profiled, all by one said that it had happened to them. One third of those officers said that they complained to supervisors, and all except one “either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions,” according to a story in the City Journal. 

Since NYPD officers started pouting, tickets and summonses for minor offenses shrank by 94 percent and overall arrests went down by 66 percent. A major problem from these actions is that police budgets will suffer from lack of fines that make up for funding shortfalls. On the other hand, city residents, particularly the targeted low-income people, will save money.

Last October, for example, a small group of black teenagers were told to leave a predominantly white neighborhood. An officer trailed them in his squad car and then shouted in his megaphone to “get out of the neighborhood.” A citizen questioned the action at a community meeting. The officer’s commanding officer, Captain Frank DiGiacomo, knew nothing about the event but said that his officer was probably trying to prevent crime. He said:

“Most of the crimes that happen in our command are from outside people committing the crimes. If [teens] are not playing basketball, you’re not playing soccer, you’re not doing something productive in the neighborhood, I can see [officers] moving them.”

The police no doubt assumed that the youth were “outside people” because they weren’t white.

Over a half century ago, African-American author James Baldwin, who grew up in New York, wrote:

“One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches, and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, son and grandson of police officers, wrote:

“Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors…. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.”

More people need to call out the police officers who fail the people they are hired “to protect and serve.”

December 29, 2014

Conservatives Lay Blame for Murders of NYPD Officers

Filed under: Racism — trp2011 @ 7:46 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A bomb at a peaceful workers’ rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886 discredited a movement against police killings of worker protesters who fought for the eight-hour day. Now conservatives are using the killings of two New York police officers for the same purpose.

For the past five months, protesters have marched throughout the United States in opposition to police killings and the judicial exoneration of law enforcement officers who killed blacks, despite the insignificant or nonexistent offences such as jaywalking, selling cigarettes, or trying to buy an air rifle in a Walmart. Nine days ago, a mentally ill career criminal killed his girlfriend before traveling to New York and killing two police officers while they sat in a patrol car. He had no connections with either New York or the protest movement, but conservatives used this tragedy to blame protesters and their supporters.

Pundits Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch are a very few of those who decided to blame NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Al Sharpton, and President Obama because of their statements that young black men may be at danger from law enforcement. There is strong support for these men to talk about the dangers of being a black man in the United States. A black man in his early twenties is 21 more times more likely to be killed by the police than a white male of the same age.

Not all police officers agree with the conservative pundits and politicians who blame progressives for the killing of these two police officers. Adhyl Polanco, a nine-year veteran officer of the NYPD, said that his fellow officers turning their backs on de Blasio was “absolutely wrong.” Polanco said, “This police department has a culture that is going to make whoever tried to change that culture and life impossible, including the mayor.”

Regarding de Blasio’s statement that he had to talk to his mixed-race son about the dangers he faces because of his racial background:

“How can a parent—how can a parent who has a black child, how can a parent that have seen millions of kids being stopped by stop-and-frisk—and you know the statistics of that—how can the parents of kids and see black kids get killed by police over and over, how can parents that see kids being summoned illegally, being arrested in their own building for trespassing, and being the treatment that they deserve from—they get from the police department—not from all officers, because not all officers are the same—how can you not responsibly to have that conversation with your son? You have to.”

According to Polanco, white police officers don’t need to have the same conversation with their white children.

The city’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, agreed with the criticism, saying that it was “very inappropriate” for the police not to face de Blasio while he was eulogizing Rafael Ramos at his funeral. He said the police rancor toward de Blasio reflects broader conflicts over the union contract and other issues.

Conservative police hate de Blasio for the same reason that conservatives hate President Obama: their lack of authoritarianism. Both have tried to be inclusive in their administrations, and both received ridicule for this practice. Before Giuliani denigrated de Blasio for his understanding of protesters, he blasted the president for not being like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. De Blasio wants a police force that “protects and serves,” rather than one who instantly brings violence and death to the people who pay their salaries.

Giuliani is a leader of the party that relies on white voters. Without the constituents among minorities—people of color, women, LGBT, etc.—the GOP cannot afford to lose whites as well. Giuliani says, “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” and he means, “Hate the Democrats because they support blacks.” Many of Giuliani’s listeners ignore the fact that he is wrong about “the propaganda.” Politifact rated Giuliani’s comments as “pants on fire,” and the Washington Post gave Giuliani four (out of possible four) Pinocchios.

Giuliani wasn’t alone in his claims: former Rep. Joe Walsh accused Obama of having “blood on his hands,” and Erick Erickson said the president has “created a situation where Americans cheer police officers being gunned down.” Rush Limbaugh again raised the specter of race war, using rhetoric reminiscent of the 18th century that encouraged poor whites to join the slave owners because black slaves might revolt against all whites. Then and now, racists are painting blacks as bloodthirsty savages. No one in the protest movement has called for killing police officers despite Baltimore Fox Affiliate Fox 45’s cutting a protesters’ chant and changing “killer cop” into “kill a cop.”

After an investigation, federal government may indict police officers through a little known law. Department of Justice and FBI have for weeks been examining the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, and Dontre Hamilton, all killed by police officers but not indicted through grand juries.

“Color of law” declares that anyone deprived of

“any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States … on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

This law was used to prosecute five New Orleans police officers over the shooting of six unarmed people on Danziger Bridge after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, two of whom died. The officers were convicted, but a federal judge overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial. The officers are still in prison awaiting the trial. The LAPD officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted on state charges but later convicted for violating his 14th Amendment due-process rights.

If Giuliani and other people blame progressives for the deaths of the police officers, they must also blame conservatives who spew hateful invective. After Bill O’Reilly’s 28 episodes about “Tiller the Baby Killer,” activist Scott Roeder killed the Wichita abortion provider George Tiller while he was in church. After anti-government hysteria, Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 600. Fox network preaches hatred of Islam before people bomb an Islamic Center in Joplin (MO) and  Wade Michael Page kills four and wounds another six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. NRA-lovers kill 28 in Newtown and 12 in Aurora (CO) while wounding another 70. After anti-IRS paranoia, Andrew Joseph Stack crashed a private plane into an IRS building in Austin (TX) and killed two people. Anti-LGBT activism leads to killing and beating thousands of suspected LGBT people. Sean Hannity supported Cliven Bundy’s “range war” against the BLM before his supporters Jerad and Amanda Miller killed five people in Las Vegas, including two police officers.

Because no official records of police killings exist, Congress voted to re-establish a federal database for all people in the U.S. killed in law enforcement detention or custody. Past efforts to collect information have not been successful, but states that fail to report the data can lose up to 10 percent of their federal law enforcement grants. The reports must include gender, race, and age. Perhaps the country will get a picture of who the police are killing. A follow-up to that should be a record of everyone who is killed in the United States through violence.

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