A black man hit my friend, threatening to rob and kill her… and the NYPD refused to help because of “protesters"
Over the weekend, I personally discovered just how high the tensions between the New York Police Department and the city it claims to serve have become.
As has been widely reported, the NYPD recently initiated a work slowdown in the wake of the execution-style murder of two police officers in Brooklyn, along with protests surrounding a Grand Jury's non-indictment of Daniel Pantoleo in the choking death of Eric Garner. Rank-and-file NYPD members explained the roots of the conflict to NPR, saying that Mayor Bill de Blasio "contributed to an anti-police climate by not cracking down on protests after the death of Eric Garner." The slowdown "worked," so to speak: Over the past few weeks, arrests and tickets for minor offenses like parking violations and turnstile jumping have declined dramatically in New York City.
But for three Brooklyn women this weekend, it became clear that some officers' bitterness has extended beyond the mayor's office to the citizens they claim to serve. And, even more troublingly, non-enforcement of laws has extended beyond mere parking violations to ignoring more legitimate -- even violent -- crimes. (These women asked not to be identified by name due to an ongoing police investigation.)
Last Saturday night in Bushwick, an altercation took place between my girlfriend's roommate and two of the roommates' male friends, both of whom were black (this will prove relevant later in the story). After the men refused repeated requests to leave the apartment, two more of the tenants confronted the men, demanding that they exit the premises immediately. One of the men slapped one roommate in the face. When the third roommate took out her phone to film the incident, the same man grabbed the phone from her hand, seemingly intending to stealing it, before attempting to hit her too. He missed, but subsequently threatened to kill and rob both women. When the two men finally left, the man who took the phone threw it down the hallway.
The women had already called the police shortly after the men first refused to leave. But when the cops arrived in the lobby of the apartment building, the two officers -- one male and one female -- were reluctant to even come upstairs to the unit. After being convinced to do so and hearing the whole story, the female cop worked her hardest -- to no avail -- to convince the women not to file a police report. Also, she did not offer any reassurance that they would try to apprehend the perpetrators, nor did she provide any advice on what to do if they returned.
What she did instead proved just how toxic the relationship between the city and its police force has become: The officer launched into an angry tirade about stop-and-frisk, "protesters," and Michael Brown-style shootings, as if any of that had to do with a woman being hit in the face in her own home.
"They came over," one witness tells me, "and there was a woman -- she was, like, short and stout, very wide -- and a Japanese man who just nodded. First off, they didn't even want to come up. I could tell by their vibe or demeanor, they were like, 'What? What do you want from us?' And I've never experienced that before."
So, what was the reason the cop cited for being unable to help the women? There were many, but the primary cause of their inaction was the mayor's and "protesters'" opposition to stop-and-frisk tactics.
According to a witness, the officer said, "Normally, we'd drive and around and see two suspicious black men walking. But because you don't like stop-and-frisk, we can't find your attacker. Now we would be called racist if I found your attacker."
It's bad enough that the officers refused to help the women. What's worse is the suggestion that the standard operating procedure to find the perpetrators would be to cruise around Bushwick stopping young black men at will.
"The laws are made for the bad guys," The officer reportedly added. "This is just something you're going to have to learn."
Finally, the officer said it was "people like you protesting" that prevent her from doing her job. It's an open question what "people like you" means, but considering she asked the witnesses how much they paid in rent -- hardly a germane question when taking a domestic violence report -- she probably meant "young-hipster-white-people-from-the show-Girls-with-enough-money-to-afford-rent-in-the-recently-gentrified-neighborhood-of-Bushwick."
The officer also made a point of relaying a completely unrelated story about a "crackhead" who approached her squad car, explaining that any attempt to defend herself from the man would have resulted in the media and protesters calling her "racist." That may be true, though judging by recent Grand Jury rulings, the institutions she serves would have likely prevented any legal consequences for the act.
But whether or not the officer's concerns are legitimate is entirely beside the point. This was a domestic violence incident, and the fact that the officer took it instead as an opportunity to lecture three women about the political climate surrounding the NYPD as opposed to trying to help, is absolutely inappropriate. Moreover, it highlights just how much bitterness is stewing within some New York police officers. It was as if the officer had been waiting to rant about this for weeks -- and a call from three white women reporting violence perpetrated by a black man presented the perfect scenario for her outburst.
Describing the NYPD slowdown, one East Harlem officer told the Daily Beast, “20 percent of the department is very active, they’d arrest their mothers if they could, and they want to get back to work. Another 20 percent doesn’t want any activity period; they’d be happy to hide and nap all day. And then there’s the great middle that thinks things are fine now as far as their concerned and all they want is good arrests.”
That's not necessarily a bad thing. The importance of devoting vast departmental resources to parking violators and turnstile jumpers is debatable; many have argued that this "Broken Windows" approach to policing -- wherein cops put forth a disproportionate amount of effort to stopping petty crimes -- is ineffective at reducing the rates of more serious offenses.
But things aren't "fine now," and it's as much about the "actives" as it is the 20 percent that wants to "hide and nap all day" -- a subsection to which the cop who lectured my friends clearly belongs. That's the real tragedy of the slowdown. Some officers are using it as an opportunity to sleep on the job while legitimate violent offenders -- the targets of "good arrests" -- walk the streets. These cops view the slowdown as the logical conclusion of an imagined "us vs them" narrative, where a line has been drawn between police officers and other hard-working citizens, and violent black criminals along with the mayor and hipsters who defend them.
It doesn't matter whether you believe Daniel Pantoleo was justified in putting Eric Garner in a chokehold, or if Darren Wilson had acted in self-defense against Michael Brown. There's never an excuse for police officers to behave the way the two cops did on Saturday. If they don't want to do their job, they can quit. Otherwise, they should stop wasting time -- and taxpayer money -- lecturing Brooklyn girls about the evils of Mayor de Blasio's New York. We already have Fox News for that.