Sunday, December 21, 2014

Giuliani Time

Maybe I missed it in what coverage of the police protests I've seen, but I would have definitely taken note of protesters literally chanting for "dead cops". It would take some serious fucktardery for anyone to perceive or portray the cold-blooded, deliberate murders of police officers as some sort of moral equivalence for the various and sundry police killings of unarmed civilians around the country.

For that matter, it's pretty asinine to chant a desire for dead cops, just as it's asinine to loot stores and attack passersby at a protest. There is a legitimate reason to protest the spate of shooting deaths of unarmed civilians by police officers, and that reason is to demand accountability for those specific officers, justice for those specific victims. Attempts to broad-brush all law enforcement for the actions of an inept, trigger-happy few are counterproductive.

That said, the cops and their unions do no one any favors by their reflexive, defensive attitude. They deliberately repurpose any and all honest attempts to right specific wrongs as attacks on all law enforcement. This is nuts. Saying that Darren Wilson's shooting of Michael Brown or Daniel Pantaleo's choking of Eric Garner deserve scrutiny and honest investigation is not an automatic indictment of all police officers, or even most of them, or even many of them. It's saying that the actions of Officers Wilson and Pantaleo need to be checked out by honest observers. Apparently this is impossible, not allowed, verboten.

Bill DeBlasio made a fatal error in having the nerve, the gall, to publicly admit that he has had The Talk that many parents of black sons have about how to deal with cops -- never have your hands in your pockets; don't make any sudden moves; be as deferential as possible; and for Christ's sake don't run. Parents of black men have been telling their kids these things for generations, this is nothing new. This is something every honest police officer knows to be true in the first place.

And it's not as if the NYPD (and other urban police forces) in particular doesn't have a nasty recent history with this sort of thing. 9/11 acted as a sort of mind eraser for some pretty bad behavior in the years immediately preceding it, and we all fell all over ourselves to genuflect to Our Heroes. But it's there all the same, in the plunger shoved in Abner Louima's asshole, in the 41 bullets that perforated Amadou Diallo as he reached for his wallet, in the punching of reporters and the burning of Dinkins effigies when the cops went batshit at the idea of independent oversight.

Just as the Ferguson protests were about so much more than just what happened between Darren Wilson and Michael Brown, so is this mushrooming impasse between the NYPD and Bill DeBlasio about more than Eric Garner, or the two officers murdered in their car yesterday by a deranged idiot. It's about the resentfulness of a paramilitarized urban police force the size of a small army, taking the reflexive posture that they don't have to explain themselves to anyone.

They get to ask the questions, and as such, they don't like being on the other side of the interrogation table. As I've been pointing out, their mission is now compliance, and the fact that "outsiders" continue to have the temerity to ask inconvenient questions shows a lack of that critical asset. We're supposed to take their answers as given, shrug our shoulders, quietly pay off the families, and forget about it.

When the hell did being a cop mean you had to answer to no one for anything? Arguments that "you don't know what it's like" ring hollow. I don't know what the President of the United States has to deal with on a daily basis either, but I do know that if he fucks up badly enough, people get to question him, and he has to fucking well answer. That's the difference between a truly free society and, well, a police state. And this is exactly how police states get started, by thwarting any and all attempts at simple accountability.

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