The NYPD is up to its old hijinks again. This time, they choked to death a 43-year-old asthmatic father of six on a Staten Island sidewalk for — allegedly — selling untaxed cigarettes. The entire exchange, of course, was caught on a cell phone camera.
It’s the same thing we’ve seen dozens of times before, both in New York and elsewhere. The police show up and bully a guy for no fucking reason at all, slam him to the ground when he understandably becomes indignant, and then stand around with their thumbs up their asses while he slowly dies handcuffed on the sidewalk. They know they’re assholes. They know they’re on camera. They simply do not give a shit.
If there’s a silver lining to this particular case, it is that the City of New York is taking a serious look at the “standing around with their thumbs up their asses” phase of this procedure. Somewhat perturbed by the lack of action taken by EMTs as Eric Garner lay unresponsive — to the point where bystanders were pleading with them to give Garner CPR — they have decided to toss four of these turdwads on desk duty pending an investigation.
Meanwhile, the officer who actually deployed the chokehold — a maneuver banned by the NYPD for reasons that should now be obvious — has been stripped of his badge and gun.
All of these are positive steps taken by the De Blasio administration, but they will prove wholly inadequate in the long run if preventing police killings is the City’s ultimate goal. The problem runs deeper than choke holds or the inaction of officers. The problem is societal. If the public is of the opinion that criminals who resist arrest — for whatever crime, for whatever reason — deserve whatever ill fate befalls them, then we should expect to see shit like this with marked regularity, and we do.
Just last year the Albuquerque Police Department, subject to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, was found to be engaged “in a pattern or practice violating residents’ Fourth Amendment rights” and of deploying deadly force in an “unconstitutional manner”. In the four years prior to the USDOJ investigation, APD had killed 23 people and wounded 14… an officer violence rate outstripping both New York and Chicago.
But what do the people of Albuquerque do? Protest, of course… in support of officers who shoot and kill their neighbors. And they sang the same refrain we’ve heard a thousand times before:
“They’re a group of highly trained professionals who do a great job,” said Janet Mitchell from Albuquerque. “They do a wonderful job. They don’t get the luxury of second guessing everything they do like the public does.”
“I’m here to support the police. I think they have a hard job and the community needs to stand behind them,” said Lou Devens from Albuquerque.
Policing is a hard job. Police are oftentimes required to make split-second decisions. So fucking what? They get to kill people with impunity? Really?
Imagine the world we’d live in if people showed the Postal Service the same deference they showed their police officers.