Using the expression “blood on the hands,” Pat Lynch, the head of the NYPD’s largest union, blamed Eric Garner protesters as well as his own mayor for the murder of two of his fellow officers. Never once did Lynch pause in his tirade to mention what, in the first place, led to the protests or his union’s part in fomenting civil unrest.
It is sad and frightening to see the head of a police union behave so irresponsibly, as Lynch has, fueling resentment, making false accusations of murder, and generally inciting his fellow police officers to more anger and hate, rather than looking for ways to defuse the situation. Add to that the sight of police officers turning their backs on their mayor, and the atmosphere is getting uglier by the minute.
Let us keep firmly in the front of our minds that police behavior, over decades, is what has led us to this day. Remember that the NYPD’s heavy-handed policing, whether it is Stop-And-Frisk, beatings, shootings, or surveillance of specific communities for well-over a century, added to a militarization of police forces throughout the country, post-911, all must retain their rightful place in a conversation that, for now, has slightly veered off course after the unfortunate murder of two officers.
It is unseemly to give their deaths more importance than the deaths of innocent civilians. It is outrageous that Lynch would even think to blame protesters of police brutality for somehow causing Ismaaiyl Brinsley to go on a murderous rampage that began in Baltimore, Maryland with the murder of his girlfriend and ended in Bed-Stuy in the murder of two police officers.
Generalizing and ascribing “blood on the hands” to hundreds of thousands of people in New York and across the country one incident that has yet to be investigated, hours after it has taken place, is unconscionable. Mr. Lynch knows very well that attacks against police by Blacks or anyone else, for that matter, are exceedingly rare. Mr. Lynch’s statements, echoed by many a Conservative former NYC official, are nothing less than blood libel.
Something urgently needs to be done. Police forces around the country have overstepped their bounds. Whether it is in Ferguson, Compton, Staten Island or Brooklyn, police behavior is identically intolerable. The creep, over time, from community policing to the status of almost superior-subordinate relationship to the populations they police just cannot stand. When did we agree to the institution of a militarized police state? Police are here to protect serve, not terrorize. They’re here to keep communities safe, not exterminate portions of them. They’re there to set an example, not violate and traumatize. Yet, those are the things they now feel entitled to do. It’s time to put them in their place.
It was distressing to see President Obama, Attorney General Holder, and others rushing to pledge their allegiance to the NYPD union by affirming, in the strongest language they could muster, their condemnation of Brinsley’s murders. Why so quick? Why at all? As deplorable as these officers’ murders are, they are no less deplorable than the police killings we’ve seen on an almost weekly basis for months on end. Contrary to police shooting of civilians, these two policemen fell while performing their duty. Their deaths, unfortunately, are emblematic of the risks of a career in law enforcement. While no death should ever be considered routine, theirs are no less sad than those of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Vonderrit Myers, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, III or any other victim of police brutality. After each killing, what have we gotten? Apologies? Sympathy for the victims and their families? No! What we have gotten is police department after police department self-auditing and immediately exonerating itself of any blame. In cases so outrageous and extreme as a twelve year old shot to death in Ohio, and another twelve year old beaten and arrested in Brooklyn, the police still found it plausible to deny wrongdoing, with their unions leading the way in justifying them. Imagine that! Killing a 12 year old boy at play is justified? Since when?
We need to regain control of our police forces through our mayors’ offices. In the large metro areas, police chiefs have too much power and the cities too little. No police department should be allowed to investigate itself. Firing a weapon should be rare – not the norm. Shooting to disable should be the goal of any firing of police weapons. Shooting to kill should be forbidden. Disabling an opponent should be a much larger part of police academy training, and figure prominently in routine maintenance training of police officers. Officers should be proficient in martial arts techniques to subdue, rather than reach for a gun or taser.
The risk inherent in the job of policing cannot be substituted for the lives of American citizens. We cannot cede our civil liberties – our lives even – to reduce to zero an officer’s on-the-job risk. Police recruits sign on to do a job that carries with it a certain level of risk. That risk is a given, not to be substituted with the lives of Americans. Fearful for your life? Get out of the policing business.
New York City police officers, already at war with recently elected Mayor Bill de Blasio, turned their backs on the mayor as he entered the police press conference to address the shooting deaths of two officers in Brooklyn, PIX 11 reports.
Two officers were killed “execution style” as they sat in their squad car in a Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood Saturday afternoon.
According to Police Commissioner William Bratton, the shooter, identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, took a shooter’s stance on the passenger side of the squad car and opened fire on the two officers with a silver semi-automatic handgun.
Invited to attend the press conference to discuss the shooting, Mayor de Blasio was greeted by hallways filled with police officers who turned their backs on the mayor as he and his entourage made their way to the press room. [ … ]
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