Updated, January 2, 2015 — Two weeks ago, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called on the thousands of people protesting against police brutality and murder to temporarily suspend their generally peaceful public protests until the completion of the funerals for the two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were killed last Saturday in Brooklyn by an emotionally troubled lone gunman. The NYPD took that as an invitation to disgracefully launch protests of their own at the funerals of officers Ramos and Liu.
More than 1,000 anti-police brutality protesters flood NYC on Tuesday, December 23, 2014, according to the NY Post (WBAI radio news put the figure at 500) despite Mayor de Blasio’s appeal to suspend protests. (Photo from NY Post)
The head of the Police Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch — who has taunted the families of those murdered by police — has, along with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, ratcheted up tensions by ridiculously linking the murder of the two cops to the overwhelmingly peaceful protests. Lynch has nonsensically asserted that the Mayor, who has tried to reduce and contain abuses by police in New York City, has “blood on his hands” and warned the Mayor not to show up at the funerals for cops killed on the job — a position spurned by the family of Officer Ramos, who welcomed the Mayor’s heartfelt condolences.
Pat Lynch, head of the NYC Police Benevolent Association
“There’s blood on many hands tonight. … Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn, ‘It must not go on. It cannot be tolerated.’ That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor. When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.“
- Pat Lynch
- LISTEN HERE to Amy Goodman’s and Juan Gonzalez’s excellent reportage on their show Democracy Now! broadcast live every weekday on WBAI radio, 99.5 FM in New York City.
Lost in Lynch’s vicious rhetoric and supremely unprofessional conduct — mirrored by the NYPD Sergeants’ Union — is any understanding that the shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who had absolutely nothing to do with the protests, had earlier in the day entered his former girlfriend’s apartment in Baltimore with a stolen key and shot her, before heading to New York City. Unfortunately, the NPYD is failing to make the critical link between domestic violence against women and the commission of wider acts of violence, and its union chief is cynically using the killing of the two police officers as an opportunity to smear those who condemn police violence, including the Mayor, to achieve (they hope) better bargaining position in the stalled contract dispute and in the upcoming election to determine who will head the Police Benevolent Association. Truth and decency are unknown flavors in the mouths of the police union honchos.
Even normally thoughtful NY Daily News columnist Mike Lupica has jumped on the NYPD’s rhetorical bandwagon, reframing the fight against the national epidemic of police murder of, primarily, Black young men, as follows:
“Still: If this mayor does not speak up against the kind of rhetoric that has been directed at the NYPD since the grand jury on Staten Island decided not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, then he is suborning such rhetoric, and the great and dangerous lie behind it: That the people of the city need protecting from those sworn to protect them.”
Police union chief Pat Lynch, and his goon squad (all on the public payroll?)
Mayor de Blasio, whose kids are bi-racial, expressed the heartwrenching legitimate concern of most Black and Latino parents in having to instruct his kids to be careful and wary in dealing with the police. Lupica, who is White, never had to warn his kids. It’s a different universe of daily experience. Lupica’s tragic blindspot is what empowers Patrick Lynch’s violent rhetoric, which in turn sets the climate for the tragic murders we’re seeing.
The aptly named Lynch’s outrageous inflammatory bleatings constitute two decades of “judgmental lapse”. Fifteen years ago outside a Bronx courthouse following the murder of the unarmed 23-year-old Amadou Diallo by four of NYPD’s plainclothed finest, whose fingers triggered 41 bullets in the direction of the gentle, slight, unarmed Diallo (19 of them finding their target at close range — and what of the other 22 shots that went awry?), Lynch, in full inflammatory throttle, issued the following asinine assessment to the media and to the people of New York City:
“This is a tragedy, not a crime! Our lives are worth a hundred times more than a criminal’s!”
And thus, Lynch turned the innocent Diallo — a Black immigrant worker from the country of Guinea — into “a criminal” and rationalized his assassination. There’s little doubt that Lynch’s ongoing racist rhetoric contributed to the climate in which the two police officers were murdered. The blood Lynch decries falls on his own hands, and — like Lady Macbeth — for those families there is not enough water in all the oceans of the world to wash it off.
The racial line is exacerbated by the “aggressive” policing tactics — known as “Broken Windows” — favored by NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton and endorsed by Patrick Lynch. It reaches deep into the NYPD as well as the civilian population. The policy was developed by the Manhattan Institute, a right-wing think tank, and adopted by Bratton during his first turn as NYC Police Commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Reuters news agency interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. According to Reuters reporter Michelle Conlin, “all but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.”
The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.
The black officers interviewed said they had been racially profiled by white officers exclusively, and about one third said they made some form of complaint to a supervisor.
All but one said their supervisors either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions. The remaining officers who made no complaints said they refrained from doing so either because they feared retribution or because they saw racial profiling as part of the system.