In case you didn’t hear already, Ray Kelly, the NYPD police commissioner has had quite the last couple of weeks. A couple of weeks ago, he finally admitted to cooperating with filmmakers of “The Third Jihad“– a radical anti-Muslim movie that asserts that most American Muslims are involved in promoting terror. And of course, if wasn’t just enough to be personally intolerant as the top policeman in New York City. Instead Kelly had the inflammatory video shown to 1500 recruits for their training. Not “a couple of times” like NYPD originally tried to say, but on a “continuous loop” for up to a year.
This comes on the heels of the NYPD being accused a domestic spying program, which targeted Muslims across the city. It monitored “every aspect of Muslim life and built databases on where innocent Muslims eat, shop, work and pray,” according to the Associated Press.
But that’s old news….avert eyes, sweep under rug.
The new news? On Thursday, NYPD police officers shot and killed an 18 year old, Ramarley Graham, in the bathroom of his parents’ house. He was unarmed. No struggle. Apparently being chased to try to make a marijuana arrest. War on drugs….sigh. Then the coverup was attempted, the grandmother was held for questioning for 7 hours and the usual “desk duty” reassignment was made while an investigation began. Now it’s being revealed that the officer who shot the teenager should have been on desk duty in the first place since he had no training in street level narcotics enforcement or plainclothes cop work, a police source said.
It is not a major leap to envision how the atmosphere of us versus them and Kelly’s “thirst for arrests, of almost any sort,” results in the following:
Over the past year, two officers charged with raping a woman were fired after being acquitted of rape but found guilty of official misconduct. A broad ticket-fixing scandal flared in the Bronx; when the accused officers were arraigned,hundreds of officers massed in protest, some denouncing Mr. Kelly. Eight current and former officers were charged with smuggling illegal guns. Narcotics detectives were accused of planting drugs on innocent civilians. An inspector needlessly pepper-sprayedfour Occupy Wall Street protesters, invoking memories of the scrutiny and mass arrests of protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention, and giving the nascent movement its first real prime-time moment.
Civil rights advocates have assailed the department’s expanded stops of minorities on the streets. Several officers denigrated West Indians on Facebook. Muslims have denounced the monitoring of their lives, as Mr. Kelly has dispatched undercover officers and informants to find radicalized youth.
And it also isn’t a stretch to see how the atmosphere that Kelly creates from the top down potentially leads to police officers shooting Black teenagers, for whatever the reason. Worse still, in this particular case, there is a clear chain of command issue since the officer did not have the training necessary. Therefore, it’s not possible to just say, well, the officer in question messed up. No…his superiors messed up too. And therefore, all of them should be held accountable. And that includes Kelly.
This really is getting old. Recently I saw a play where the topic of police brutality was addressed. In one of the scenes, one of the actresses said a line which I’ll paraphrase as: “The shoot us down like we are animals. But even animals will protect their young. If we don’t, does that make us less than animals then?”
She was right. This needs to stop. If only we could drum up the same level of outrage for a (Black) teenager getting killed as was provoked by three (white) women getting pepper sprayed (hmmmmm). I definitely don’t have all the answers. But, it starts with Ray Kelly being out a job. But this problem is not confined to NYPD in the least bit. You see it across the country, in Oakland for instance, and even in the way that the federal government has stepped up its police state tactics. So really, the solution probably requires an entire rethink of how law enforcement is conducted specifically and how we operate as a society in general.
We’ve seen this play too many times before. It’s time to change the predictable ending.