By Richard Chandler Burroughs
Like all things in this country, the NYPD is a tale of two cities, and the Dickensian analogy is darkly hi-lighted by the murder of the two NYPD officers, in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, on December 20th, 2014. The murders were brutal. They were heinous. They were tragic, while also being alarming, as it appeared that the embattled environment between the NYPD and every sane, empathetic person, regardless of race, politics or socioeconomic status, had reached a point of no return, yet the city is not up in smoke.
It appeared that the city had reached a point, where the NYPD would lock and load, close ranks and ratchet up the very abusive and murderous actions that have historically defined the department. If the internet chatter, as quoted by some media outlets, was “they took two of ours, we took two of theirs” then the expected response, from the NYPD, would be more brutality and more murderous engagement with the black and brown communities.
I found out about the killings while I was DJing a holiday shoppers market in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The father/father in-law of the owners of the market came in with the news, about the shootings, and it actually didn’t sound real. It made my head spin, right along with the Serato control records on the turntables, and turned my ritually enjoyable moments of playing music, into a angst filled countdown til I was once again, walking the city streets. I didn’t think the streets would be safe.
My mind was pretty clear that a black guy can’t simply murder two NYPD cops and expect the NYPD to take it laying down. Especially since the assailant killed himself at the Myrtle-Willoughby, G train station, and hence removed an actual focus point for cops to direct the anger, frustration and acts of retribution that was surely welling up inside their uniforms.
Fast Forward and it’s nearly New Years Eve, ten days past the shooting and the response has been varied. It’s been the NYPD disrespecting NYC Mayor de Blasio, saying that he has blood on his hands for the killings of the two officers, while also laying blame for the officers deaths at the feet of the protestors.
According to a New York Post Article, it’s been a virtual work stoppage, by the NYPD, since Dec. 22nd. Seemingly as retribution, arrests and summons for minor offenses, which generate a lions-share of revenue the PD contributes to the city’s coffers, is down a whopping 94%, while overall arrests are down 66%, as compared to the same week in 2013.
In response to the shooting, the police union has called Mayor de Blasio on the carpet, for the cardinal sin of warning his black teen son, about the NYPD cops traditional gross mistreatment, abuse and even murderous actions towards black men.
Real life has a way of creating inconvenient truths in politics, which is clearly the case with de Blasio’s public reveal that he and his wife had to have “the talk” with their son. Post David Dinkins mayoralty, the odds of another Black NYC mayor has been smaller than a bigots mind, while the NYPD has remained staunchly anti-reform, continuing its legacy of race-based, police brutality and abuse. So ultimately, the NYPD, and it’s union, were not ready for such an intimate voice, speaking to the reality of police brutality, against black men, coming from the city’s first family.
A Black mayor is not the only way for a Black family to live in Gracie Mansion, and the police and it’s supporters were caught flat-footed by that fact. Perhaps they expected the Mayor to put his race over his family and keep hush and not make public his personal reality; that his black teen son fits the profile of potential, dangerous engagement with the NYPD and that Black Lives Matter. If they did, then they were wrong. I’m not even sure what’s the grandest showing of the privilege the NYPD enjoys: expecting Mr. de Blasio to not publicly broach the topic or becoming enraged when he did.
And blaming the protestors for the death of the officers sounds like a rant on talk radio and not the rep for a big city police union.
Ultimately, the city has not been torn apart by the murders of the two police officers, which speaks to the Dickensian reality in the NYPD. It’s a real wall of blue, but it’s a myriad of cracks in its façade, because Black and Latino officers are treated differently, get promoted less, face discrimination on the job, while also getting harassed and suffering the same abuse they help met out while in uniform.
So yeah, as far as I can see, the NYPD and the Black and Brown communities have note been torn apart. Though the police have responded with a virtual work stoppage, that may come back to haunt them during contract negotiations, the city has not been hit with the types of retaliatory actions by police, that could fuel a gotham Hatfields vs McCoy feud.
It’s not because cooler heads prevailed; the truth is the city hasn’t been torn apart because behind the blue, the police are a white privilege fraternity and the two, murdered police officers were named Officer Ramos and Officer Liu. No doubt a byproduct of the Dickensian Reality in the NYPD.