When the members of the New York Police Department decided to take the somber, solemn occasion of saying farewell to a fallen comrade, as an opportunity to make a political statement, their actions placed them in strange company. Whether or not the officers have legitimate grievances is not the issue. The problem is the time and place chosen has pretty well been universally condemned with good reason. It was just plain wrong.
This was supposed to be about Officer Rafael Ramos. Not creating a public spectacle.
Showing poor discipline and gross insubordination, in most countries, armed civil servants turning their back on a leader is considered a coup, mutiny, even treason and worthy of the most severe punishments, up to and including jail or worse.
On fundamental principle there are no similarities between the Westboro Baptist Church and the NYPD, however their recent actions are of the same vein.
Typically a funeral is a time to mourn. A time to celebrate. A time to remember the departed. NOT a time to make a political statement. Even if one agrees with the sentiment, there are better ways to voice dissatisfaction in a leader and not appear like a spoiled brats in the process. It is their absolute right to do this, but it is also our right to view them the way we now do. Insubordinate and undisciplined.
Dissent Without Disrespect Possible
Better ways exists for public safety employees wanting to be called "officer" to express discontent. There are op eds, letters to the editor, social media campaigns, press releases or even writing a blog piece such as this.
In Baltimore the Fraternal Order of Police once took out a huge billboard in a prominent spot downtown. It declared the mayor and city council had turned their backs on police and firefighters. It was bold. It was shocking. It jarred the conscious of many. I fully supported this.
I supported them and the pension issue they felt they were cheated and double crossed on. But what NYPD did, I cannot have even an iota of respect for. I shudder to think what would have happened if my Marine Corps platoon did something like this.
As if things weren't already embarrassing enough, the NYPD continues to dig themselves into an ever deepening hole, losing legitimacy and credibility with the American public, as they unwittingly construct a public relations nightmare.
It has been confirmed that their officers are now actively engaging in a work slow down. Shirking responsibility and being derelict of duty in order to make a political statement. This now trumps doing your damn job. Only in America!
Incidentally, the NYPD is made up of a majority of white men, many of Irish and Italian descent. I could only imagine the outrage and uproar had a majority black police force (are there any?) taken similar actions against a white elected official. What would Rush Limbaugh say?
Sitting at the center of all the controversy is police union leader Pat Lynch. A man who responded to the brutal ambush, double murder of two police officers, by casting blame on seemingly everyone imaginable except the one most responsible. A psychotic, deranged mentally ill man.
Lynch took the opportunity and stage given to him during a tragedy, to drive a huge wedge, further worsening already abysmal conditions between law enforcement and many Americans. Supposedly all of this immature, infantile, temper-tantrum-like behavior is over statements the Mayor of New York made concerning warnings he gave his biracial son. The mayor urged his son to be cautious when dealing with police.
As a middle aged black man, I can tell you, I'd been given similar warning in my youth and still hear it today from concerned friends and family.
But why all the controversy? Why do so many officers and their blind supporters feel Mayor de Blasio turned his back on the police? Did he say anything that was wrong?
I've found Americans have turned into a nation living off sound bites, headline links, Facebook posts, and 140 character tweets. This makes them easily manipulable, increasingly gullible and easily led (astray) in an age of information. Few take the time to dig deeper and find true meaning and comprehension of an issue.
There is what Bill de Blasio ACTUALLY said, and what his statements are being misinterpreted and misconstrued to have been. I fear he may be unfairly judged as things have gotten blown way out of proportion.
Well known celebrity Mia Farrow - she's white - herself a New Yorker, gave her take on the controversy. Posting on her official Twitter account, Farrow stated: "Here is what NYC's mayor said. Not disrespectful - true. I've said this to my own black son"
|Courtesy of Mia Farrow via Twitter.|
Black Men Face Continued Crisis From Police Encounters
The mayor was merely speaking out of an abundance of love, and an instinctive sense of protection and preservation for his son. He knows the truth of what happens in this country all too often, when the police come upon black men. Particularly young black men.
The sad reality is, black men, of all backgrounds, education and socio-economic status have a statistically proven, much greater chance of having negative, potentially lethal encounters with the police. Even when not involved in any criminal activity whatsoever. Look at what happened to Dr.Henry Louis Gates, esteemed Harvard professor, just merely trying to get into his own home.
Dr. Gates was lucky his encounter ended only with an arrest, eventually followed up with a Beer Summit with the president and the arresting officer.
One wrong word, or perceived false move, and Dr. Gates could have easily been killed. It's happened before. His death would be somehow justified - as is typically the case when police kill, no matter what. When in truth, all that took place was a black man was simply trying to get in his own home.
In a recent article; the Daily Beast's Mike Tomasky shared the following:
Not long ago, ProPublica, the website that does hard-nosed, empirical investigative journalism, undertook an extensive study of federally collected crime data on 12,000 police homicides over 22 years. The site found that young black males are far more likely to be shot by cops than young white males. Four times more likely, or eight times, or 10 times? Try 21 times more likely—31 per million as opposed to 1.5 per million for whites. This isn’t some liberal conspiracy. These are the numbers as reported to the government by police departments themselves.
And now we can’t even acknowledge this plain truth? Astonishingly, it appears we can’t agree on it. Right around the time de Blasio spoke, Marist was in the field with a poll asking people whether they think police treat whites and blacks differently. Here are some answers. In each case, the “yes, differently” number comes first.
So two decades’ worth of statistics tell us that black men are killed by police at 21 times the rate white men are, and yet half the public has persuaded itself that police treat blacks and whites no differently. And it’s controversial for a mayor with a black 16-year-old son to say something so obvious—indeed, what every parent of a black son has to say.
It is not easy for a majority of white men to put themselves in the shoes of black parents in America. Mayor de Blasio has a black son. Never mind he's technically biracial. That is not what he looks like. It's not what people see.
It shouldn't have to be pointed out, but if no one told you and you didn't know, seeing Dante de Blasio walking down the street, all you see is a young black man, with a huge 70's throwback afro
We're a very long way from living in a country where black men could expect truly equal treatment and respect from the law. In far too many cases, it just isn't happening.
Real Leadership Desperately Needed
Our country is currently in crisis. There is no doubt, confidence, trust and credibility in law enforcement is likely at historic all time lows. Instead of furthering the separation between the people and the police, Mr. Lynch has decided as a union leader to take the path of being a divisive figure. It is incredibly disappointing and sad to see the "us versus them" false narrative being promoted by a man in a senior leadership capacity.
His actions and that of the officers acting in insubordination only further bolster what protestors and those calling for police accountability have said all along. The police are out of control.
We see you NYPD. We see your true colors.