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“Police Union Throws A Self-Pity Party In Baltimore”: Freddie Gray Protesters Are A “Lynch Mob”

It seemed as though police union leaders had gotten some PR training lately, and moved on from their strategy of pretending they’re the real victims in the awful spate of police killings involving unarmed black men. New York’s Pat Lynch has stopped shrieking that Mayor Bill de Blasio has “blood on his hands” for the time being. We haven’t heard anything lately from loud-mouthed Cleveland police union chief Jeff Follmer, who defended the killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by insisting “the nation needs to realize, when [police] tell you to do something, do it.”

Instead, we’ve seen more sensitivity to the outrage of the victim’s family and community in the wake of recent killings. North Charleston officials famously arrested officer Michael Slager for shooting Walter Scott, after it was captured on a chilling video. In Madison, Wisc., the police chief quickly released the name of the officer who killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson last month, expressed sympathy for his family, and the district attorney continues to investigate.

But it seems that in Baltimore, police union leaders didn’t get the PR memo. Wednesday night Gene Ryan, head of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, compared the peaceful protesters who’ve gathered nightly in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray to a “lynch mob.

Gray, 25, died of a severed spinal cord and a crushed larynx he suffered while in police custody, and authorities have given no details about exactly how it happened. But videos of Gray’s arrest, after a foot chase, have surfaced, and they are painful to watch. His mysterious death has understandably touched off a wave of local protest, angry at times but lawful and peaceful. In news coverage we see citizens exercising their right to assemble and to question authorities, legally and non-violently.

That’s not what Gene Ryan sees. “The images seen on television look and sound much like a lynch mob in that they care calling for the immediate imprisonment of these officers without them ever receiving the due process that is the Constitutional right of every citizen, including law enforcement officers,” the union head said in a statement.

A little history note for Ryan: “Lynch mobs” didn’t demand the “immediate imprisonment” of African Americans. They murdered them in cold blood – and those mobs often included police officers. Even when they weren’t aided and abetted – or led – by law enforcement, the mobs only succeeded because law enforcement routinely looked away.

The Gray family’s attorney attempted to educate Ryan. “We’ve been the victims of the lynching and now we’re the lynch mob?” William Murphy asked. “This level of ignorance of history needs to be remedied by an education by the real history of Black America, a history that he has evidently never been exposed to.”

Ryan then tried to walk back his ridiculous comparison. “Maybe I need to reword that,” he said in a press conference Wednesday night. But he continued to make his officers out to be victims in the aftermath of Gray’s killing.

It’s hard to know if this is a strategy, or the inborn reaction of police to any citizen complaints about their behavior: hysteria, combined with attempts to intimidate the public, and elected officials, into silence. There would be no police killings, their mentality holds, if the nation realized, in the illuminating words of Cleveland’s Jeff Follmer, that “when we tell you to do something, do it.”

Sadly, the recent outbreak of calm and clear thinking in North Charleston and Madison, not the outbursts of Lynch, Follmer and Ryan, are probably the aberration here. As U.S Attorney Loretta Lynch stands on the brink of confirmation as attorney general, finally, let us hope the Justice Department continues to school local law enforcement leaders that when their citizen employers tell them to obey the law, they should do it.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, April 23, 2015

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Baltimore Police Dept, Police Abuse, Police Unions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Behavior Divisive To The Point Of Savagery”: The NY Police Union’s Vile War With Mayor De Blasio

I covered New York politics for 15 years, and I saw some awfully tense moments between the police and Democratic politicians. But there has never been anything remotely like the war the cops are waging right now against Mayor Bill de Blasio for the thought crime of saying something that was completely unremarkable and so obviously true that in other contexts we don’t even bat an eye when someone says it. And for that, the mayor has blood on his hands, as Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Pat Lynch said Saturday evening after the hideous assassinations of two NYPD officers?

Let’s rewind the tape here. On Dec. 3, in the wake of the Staten Island grand jury’s refusal to indict in the case of the police homicide of Eric Garner, de Blasio gave a press conference at a Staten Island church. He spoke of the need to heal and so on, the usual politician’s rhetoric, and then he uttered these words:

This is profoundly personal for me. I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said, I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens. I said to him I did. Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years, about the dangers he may face. A good young man, a law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face—we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.

Dante de Blasio, as you surely know, is a mixed-race young man of 16 who looks black and sports a large, ’70s-style afro. Does anyone seriously think that his father should not have told him what he did? Come on. We all know the odds (actually, we don’t, more on which later). We hear every prominent black man in America who has a son and who decides to talk about this publicly—football players and actors and others—say exactly the same thing. We’ve heard it hundreds of times. Are these men lying? Are they paranoid weirdos? Of course they aren’t. They are fathers, describing to the rest of us what I thought was a widely acknowledged reality.

Is it somehow jarring to some people that the father who spoke these words is not black but white? I bet that has something to do with it. Do we accept black fathers saying this, because we grant them the presumption of speaking from experience, which we don’t grant the white de Blasio? This may be how human brains, or some of them, are wired. But it makes no sense. All you have to do is look at the kid and you’ll see what Hizzoner means.

Or is it that it’s fine for de Blasio to talk however he wishes to his son, but that because he is the mayor and the leader of the police he should not have said so publicly, especially at a tense moment? All right, this is slightly more understandable. But only slightly. Certainly, this response would be understandable and even justified if de Blasio had in fact attacked the police. But he did no such thing. He said he’s trained his son to “take special care” in dealing with the police—who, he added, “are there to protect him.” Where Pat Lynch and Rudy Giuliani heard a slur, millions of his constituents—black, brown, and even a few white like him—heard him representing, in terms that were, from their point of view, sadly their reality.

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.

Overall: 47-44
Whites: 39-51
Blacks: 82-14
Latinos: 53-38
Democrats: 64-29
Independents: 44-48
Republicans: 26-64

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.

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Stephanie Keith/Reuters

And that’s dividing the city? And Pat Lynch, by speaking of officers’ blood on the steps of City Hall and urging his cops to sign an online petition that de Blasio not attend their funerals should they be killed in the line of duty, is doing… what? His behavior is divisive to the point of savagery. He is actively trying to make the people who follow him not only despise de Blasio but despise and oppose any acknowledgement that police can be faulted in any way, that black fear of police has any basis in reality. If Al Sharpton did the same with regard to police departments tout suite, which he does not anymore—he denounced the murder of the two cops immediately—he’d be drummed out of society.

Still, de Blasio should find ways to rise above all this. That’s part of the responsibility that comes with being mayor. But he should not back down from what he said. We always insist, after all, that we don’t want our politicians to lie.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, December 22, 2014

December 23, 2014 Posted by | Bill de Blasio, NYPD, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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