The Police in NYC: Stating the Obvious

The mayor of New York City is no working class hero. He is a representative of the exploiters–just, perhaps, a different flavor of exploitation than some others. So why is NYPD so down on him? Why are they publicly insulting him? Forgive me if I’m stating the obvious, but it’s not and never was about De Blasio, or his mealy-mouthed admission that just maybe when unarmed people are being murdered by the police, not everything is exactly perfect. No, what this is about is the cops using the pretext of the death of two officers to assert their power over the civilian authority. They are being militarized, they are being let off the leash, and now they are saying that they are willing to show the world that no one has any authority over them. “Civilians are not in charge of us, we dictate to them, both as individuals (‘Obey police orders or get hurt’) and now on the level of government.” The frayed, tattered–though still in some ways noble–remnant of democracy that has been chipped away at for years is now being assaulted with dynamite. This is another movement toward a police state. We need to not lie to ourselves about it.

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14 thoughts on “The Police in NYC: Stating the Obvious”

  1. I find it hilarious that the NYPD’s chief vehicle for their “protests” is that they’ve cut down on “unnecessary arrests” by 90%, and think they’re punishing New Yorkers by it.

  2. I agree. The Cops in NY think they are running the city. Time to fire them all.

  3. It really is horrifying. The police must understand they’ve gone too far in public in this instance, but even so there will be little blowback, and the next mayor will be an even more submissive toady than usual.

    Of course there is plenty of precedent for the magical superiority of the police over law and their supposed superiors in government: J. Edgar Hoover, for one. But it’s unusual to see something like this in a local force.

    In a sane world the entire constabulary would be given a chance to recede from this ridiculous and grotesquely offensive position or be dismissed with no benefits. I’m sure there would be a sufficient cadre of minority officers along with a few conscientious others remaining to train up a new draft of more responsible and representative police. But of course nothing like this will ever happen.

  4. Question. Probably non-nonsensical, given that it is coming from me, but maybe someone can make hay of it.

    Police in rural Nevada don’t seem to be as militarized. Are we headed towards a situation where the flyover states are “free” longer than the coasts?

    Yep, I don’t know how to make sense of the noise in my head. After several attempts, that’s the best I can come up with. I’m trying to ask how is that going to work out? Other than badly, I mean.

  5. No Mechaninja, plenty of midwest and southern states are more militarized than NY. Compare Ferguson. NY has it’s own horrible problems, though. Right now the big deal there is not militarization so much as that the NYPD is deliberately flouting civil authority (and flaunting their disdain for that matter). This follows first their resentment at orders to stop frisking minorities without reason, second the widespread protests against the Garner atrocity that they chose to take personally, and third using the excuse of these two recent murders to somehow blame both de Blasio and the protesters for the actions of this random criminal.

    I imagine Nevada is somewhat smoother in public appearance because tourism — including foreign tourism — is so critical to the economy and tourists don’t like tanks and assault rifles on the street. In my limited experience, the Las Vegas airport has the loosest security in the country, and the reason for this is obvious. But it’s random small towns and counties in the west and south that have taken orders from the military of their APVs, crowd-control weapons, and even heavy military weapons. Not that the coastal states are innocent in this regard, see the corporate SWAT absurdity in such a liberal state as Massachusetts, for example. It’s just that the coast has little to do with the situation, I think.

  6. Not to undermine your main thesis, but there is more going on here. Yes, our society is increasingly militarized at all levels, to the detriment of democracy, and yes, the police across this country are at the forefront of that movement, but the main cause of the dispute between Di Blasio and the NYPD is something that should be very familiar to you… it is a labor dispute.

    Pat Lynch is the head of the PBA. It is not coincidental that he is the instigator of the conflict, not the Commissioner. The NYPD has been fighting Di Blasio’s office over their long delayed contract, a fight that thoroughly predates the current mayor. The PBA has been fighting for a better deal than Di Blasio gave all the other city unions. If Lynch has chosen to scapegoat the mayor, it is as much a collective bargaining tactic as is about anything else.

  7. While I don’t share your politics, I certainly agree with you here. There is also another thing happening: People have noticed the lack of the enforcement of the petty crimes and see arrests down 94% and police only making arrests “when absolutely necessary” and it is causing people to legitimately ask: “What do we need you for?” to the NYPD. In short, the NYPD’s “protest” by rank and file is having the exact opposite of its intended effect.

  8. larswyrdson, I don’t think this can be characterized as a labor dispute–at least, not in terms of putting pressure on management to address wage and working conditions shortcomings. Here in Minneapolis the police uprising is also being led by the Policemen’s Benevolent Association (the police union), in the form of its president. They’re attacking the mayor with trumped-up assertions that she’s encouraging gang activity. What they’re really upset about is the mayor’s program requiring cops to wear video cameras while on duty…a program supported by the police chief. (Google “pointergate” to find out more.)

    This is a case of the police trying to undermine the democratic process to assert power, not an open protest against their working conditions. I think NYC may look like a labor dispute because the voice of the police is coming from their union.

  9. Hang on a second, Keino… Are people in New York really asking the NYPD, “What do we need you for?”

    Have they never seen Escape from New York?

  10. There are aspects of the current USA that, from a distance, remind me of nineteenth-century Prussia. That was described as a state in the service of an army, rather than an army in the service of a state. The US isn’t there, but it’s heading that way.

  11. Sadly, I think you are right. If the police are not in service of the citizen, who are they in service of? They are asserting their authority over us all.

    When a group becomes unpunishable, they can do anything. And this is what has happened. What can be done? Fire them all? Then what? And the courts probably wouldn’t allow that.

    Yesterday there was an op-ed piece in the NY Times by a cop who claimed that all they wanted is a little respect. Not realizing that respect has to be earned, not given. And if they go around shooting civilians with impunity and then complain when the mayor points this out, they go on a partial strike. I could not bring myself to read this piece, it was so obviously going to be self-serving. Can anything be done about it or has it gone too far? Call out the National Guard? And if they decide to take over?

  12. Heard an excerpt of Bratton’s interview on NPR. It was horrifying. His line was (close paraphrase) “racism is society’s problem, not ours in the police department, so stop bothering me about this.”

  13. There is a long history of people in power complaining that they are being picked on. Not so much for people who are actually being picked on (but that exists too). We live in a time when it is easy to find others with our same views – which reinforces them. Then we are more willing to say them out-loud and peer pressure builds to agree with them.

    And our computer networks are automating the process of seeing only what we want to see.

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