Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Lives of the Two Police Killed in Brooklyn on Saturday are No More Valuable Than That of Eric Garner

Human Rights Must Always Trump '#NYPDLIVESMATTER'

Two New York police officers were killed on Saturday. This is an unfortunate happening.

Spokespeople for the New York City police have responded in a predictable way by using the deaths of two officers as a means to delegitimize public concerns about police thuggery and murder in the aftermath of the public strangling of Eric Garner and the execution by cop of Michael Brown.

The Police Benevolence Association said this about the shootings in New York:
The head of the Policeman’s Benevolent Association in New Jersey said that the shooting of the officers was “spurred on by so much recent hatred aimed at officers everywhere.”

“Our society stands safer because of the sacrifices officers make everyday, but the hatred that has grown over the past few weeks in this country has gone unchecked by many elected leaders,” the official, Patrick Colligan, said in a statement posted on Facebook.
A declaration of war against people of color in New York has also been issued:
A statement purporting to be from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the biggest police union, blamed Mr. de Blasio for the shootings. 
“The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words, actions and policies,” read the statement, “and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.” 
The statement instructed officers to forward it to colleagues, and it spread instantly through the department.
Threats of thuggery and retaliation have also been made against publicly elected officials:
The head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, blamed the mayor for the shootings as he addressed officers outside Woodhull Hospital after the bodies of Officer Liu and Officer Ramos were borne away. 
“There is blood on many hands, from those that incited violence under the guise of protest to try to tear down what police officers did every day,” Mr. Lynch said. 
“That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.” 
Now is a time of grieving, Mr. Lynch said. “We’ll mourn for our city and we’ll mourn for our brothers,” he said. “We’ll straighten our shoulders, we’ll stiffen our backs and we’ll wipe our tears.” 
But he warned, “When those funerals are over, we’ll raise our heads and those that allowed this to go on will be held accountable.”
Social media has responded with the hashtag "#NYPDLIVESMATTER". This is a direct affront and effort to undermine the slogan "Black Lives Matter" and its affirmation of the value of black peoples' lives.

NYPDLIVESMATTER is a perverse and grotesque statement, one that assumes a lie and false assumption: of course the lives of police "matter"; there is an entire legal, social, and political apparatus to protect the police, and that empowers them to kill innocent people of color without consequences.

Moreover, that NYPDLIVESMATTER is positioned as a response to "Black Lives Matter" demonstrates how "law and order", white racial resentment, and white supremacy are deeply intertwined and almost inseparable in the (White) American political imagination.

America's police were and remain a deeply racist social institution. NYPDLIVESMATTER is a claim and assertion against the justice claims of black Americans. For White America, Right-wing authoritarians, the unthinking mass of the American public, and cop fetishists this is a zero sum process: the possessive investment in Whiteness mandates that one cannot accept how the lives of police are no more valuable and worthy than the lives of African-Americans.

White supremacy and white privilege also demand accountability from "black leadership" and those others who have spoken out against police brutality, crafting broken logic where somehow the protests against police brutality are responsible for the killing of two police in Brooklyn.

Misplaced norms of group accountability for people of color as viewed through the White Gaze are a fixture of white privilege. There is no reciprocity: the supporters of "Black Lives Matter" stand in sympathy with the two police killed in Brooklyn; police and their spokespeople rarely if ever stand in unity with the victims of police violence, thuggery, abuse, and murder.

If the colorline was a sporting event, the spectators are rooting for their respective teams with police on one side and black folks on the other. NYPDLIVESMATTER is cheerleading for a lack of accountability and preemptive violence by the police against African-Americans. Here, the rhetorical evasion in post racial, colorblind discourse will be the lazy out that "we support the police against "criminals" and "thugs" with "race having nothing to do about any of this!"

The obvious is also transparent as "criminals" and "thugs" are stand-ins for "blacks" and "nigger" in the post civil rights era racial discourse.

It is also important to note how NYPDLIVESMATTER exists within the same public discourse as language like "anti-police bigotry".

See this explanation from the Johnson County Law Center for example:
Why would anyone single out people of a certain profession and try to discredit or vilify that entire group? 
Such wide-sweeping generalizations about blacks, jews, gays, or other minority groups are typically not tolerated. Yet, when people make bigoted unfounded statements about the policenobody seems to mind. 
Like all bigotry, a few anecdotal stories are offered to support the vilification of a certain group. Those who buy into the hatred, soak up any additional data that supports their new found belief system, and ignore anything that challenges their world view. 
It seems like just about every week we’re confronted with some new story of police brutality, incompetence, fraud, or other scandal. Most recently it’s been reported that police in North Carolina gunned down an unarmed man who was simply approaching them to request assistance at the scene of an auto accident. (Source: CNN) Another recent incident, in New York City, involved police shooting at an unarmed man in a crowd. They hit innocent bystanders instead. (Source: New York Post) Blended in with current news are reminders of past tragedies, like the story mentioned above of 20 police officers in Toronto who shot and killed a teenager with a penknife. 
Let’s say there’s a police-induced tragedy each week. That’s 52 police-related tragedies per year out of about 800,000 officers who are serving. That’s an extremely small number of people making mistakes.* Yet, it’s not the perception we’re left with after following popular media. 
Ultimately, we should all do our best to prevent the kind of thinking that demonizes any group of people based on the acts of only a few. Keep that number of 800,000 in mind. Each time you hear of a police officer who’s been convicted of corruption or some other scandal, remember there are another 800,000 good police who are ethically, faithfully, and compassionately serving their communities.
These are common rhetorical moves by the Right-wing in the United States. From "reverse racism" to "equality of opportunity" and "colorblindness", American conservatives have shamelessly, dishonestly--and to great effect--appropriated the language of progressives and liberals to work against the very goal of a more just society that the latter have struggled and died to advance.

Police are the direct hand and face of Power in the United States.

As such, they are the enforcers of the Racial State whose purpose is to feed bodies into the gaping maw of the new Jim and Jane Crow's prisons and jails. The notion that police are "victims" of "bigotry" is an absurd one. While their morality may in fact be stained, enforcers of power, by definition, are not victims of Power.

Contemporary America is a society that is sick with torture, white victimology, gross wealth inequality, and other illnesses that together have created a culture of delusions and lies. Plain spoken truths by people of conscience are a partial antidote.

I will attempt to offer one here: the lives of the police are no more valuable than those of Eric Garner or any other human being.

Human rights trump the "unique", particular, and somehow imagined as "special" lives of the police. We are all human beings with universal rights. The public good will be much better served when the police as a social institution (many of whose members feel empowered to violate the rights of non-whites, the poor, the mentally ill, and those others who society has marginalized) internalize and act upon such a basic and foundational principle.

32 comments: said...

Jews, blacks , immigrants and gays have been treated this way for decades. Why should it matter when its the police that the hate is directed? EVERY life matters.

Courtney H. said...

Good point. But then again, Eric Frein is White. They made a bigger deal about Chris Dorner last year. I wonder why? Oh yeah, it is a rhetorical question.

Miles_Ellison said...

White people who kill cops are righteous defenders of freedom from the encroachment of jackbooted government thugs. Black people deserve to be shot just for being black. This is where we are.

balitwilight said...

It's not so much the deaths of 2 policemen that bothers a lot of people. It's the "BLACK-NESS" around it that has raised the familiar lynch-mob stench of American hysteria. After all, just this June in Las Vegas, a couple of "white" right-wing extremists (Jerad and Amanda Miller) gunned down 2 police officers and another person, then committed suicide. They targeted the police and stated their goal was to start a revolution. Jerad Miller had previously hung out at the Cliven Bundy Ranch.

Does anyone see a slight difference in the level of media coverage and outrage that this incident received? Did you see these perpetrators' mugshots re-played endlessly? Did you see congressmen, police-chiefs and media blowhards blaming Ted Cruz and the often-violence-threatening Tea Party for the deaths of these policemen? Were those two terrorists not treated with the hermetically preserved individuality that "white" identity provides all criminals in the United States?

What is even more indicative of the sheer derangement of White Supremacy in this country is that any review of FBI statistics will tell you that the greatest actual lethal threat to police officers in this country isn't people protesting actual police violence, or "black" men - but the armed-to-the-teeth "white" people of the deranged right-wing "sovereign citizen"/Cliven Bundy type.

Yet, notice the overflowing outrage now from this incident. See how De Blasio has been "niggerized" into contempt, like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson before him. The combination of indignation, rage, fear - and generalized "black guilt" - that is projected at the killer is out of proportion to what was seen after even more egregious police shootings like Las Vegas. It has nothing to do with the dead policemen, but rather the "blackness" involved. It's is a familiar and lethal rage - which led to lynchings and the burning down of entire towns in the recent past.

Black Romulan said...

Don't forget the Cliven Bundy anti-LEO standoff rejects Jared and Amanda Miller either.
Their cop-killing case is a near mirror image of this current crime down to the swastika, Gadsden flag and “The revolution is beginning” calling cards literally left on the two cops they slain. These two were egged on to join in on Bundy's Fox News-endorsed act of armed sedition only to be kicked out to start their own shooting spree, and yet not one damning drop of spilt blood stains any of those stochastic terrorists. (As Gomer Pyle would say) Surprise, surprise...

Gable1111 said...

Jerad and Amanda Miller killed two cops in cold blood in Vegas this past summer; their given reason? They are "anti-government" and saw killing cops as a legitimate response. They also assumed doing so would provoke a "revolution." They left a Gadsden flag, an adopted symbol of the tea party, and a Nazi swastika on the bodies, making sure it was known where their sympathies lie.

This happened in the wake of the Bundy ranch anti-government armed "protest," from which the Millers were ejected as "too extreme." But everyone on the right from Limbaugh to Hannity to O'Reilly, and many in Congress, rushed to embrace the Bundy ranchers as "patriots," endorsing their armed actions. Out of all that came the Millers and their deadly actions.

Why was what the Millers did not perceived by cops and police unions as a direct threat to their authority? Where were the charges of "blood on their hands" against right wing talkers and politicians who weren't shy in voicing their support of the Bundy rancher's "second amendment" solutions that the Millers carried out, or threats of violence, all of which is typical on the right?

If you apply the arguments of police unions and their right wing defenders in support of blaming the protesters for the killings of the two officers yesterday, then they would have done the same in blaming right wing politicians and talkers for their support of the Bundy "patriots." But that did not happen.

I suspect it did not happen because (a) the police unions and organizations are essentially right wing institutions themselves whose affinities and political focus are in tune with the conservative movement; (b) corporate/right wing media in the personages of Fox "News" and others only reported on the facts of the Miller murders and did not indulge in the racially-charged opinionated focus that they have had on the police accountability protests, and (c) it is really the case that police organizations exist to control non-whites, and any opposition to their authority coming from such persons is seen as a direct threat, hence the hysterical responses from these police unions.

SW said...

It's almost impossible to watch sporting events anymore. The endless armed forces propaganda through troop reunions, coupled with the movie preview propaganda (American Sniper and Unbroken), coupled with coaches wearing black arm bands as a tribute to the fallen police, coupled with the announcers proclaiming America's exceptionalism. It's become unbearable.

joe manning said...

The knee jerk conspiratorial aspect of the media is writ large. The heavy rotation of such comments as "We do not condone..." are designed to suggest quite the opposite. Gross Goebellization in the service of white supremacy.

Wild Cat said...

Tell me about it. I'm still a season-ticket holder for an NFL team, but for moral reasons, I gave up pro football after 2012 and hope to sell my PSL during the offseason. (Once they start committing suicide en masse, I'm out.) Sporting events have become Nuremburg rallies; there's also illegal collusion between the Armed Forces using their disgusting fighter jets and other equipment as entertainment props at games. And: Recruitment. Gotta recruit the drunken testosterone for endless war.

And, as I once informed this blog's wonderful host, the owner of his favorite team is in tight with Rush Limbaugh. Chauncey is free to do as he sees fit, but IMHO, the NFL is a league that has once-impoverished African-American athletes with brain damage further harming other once-impoverished African-American athletes with brain damage for the fun of white America.

I tend to ignore the jingoistic feces when attending baseball games, where a legless sap is often wheeled onto the field for his moment of glory before he goes back to his VA Hospital grave.

SW said...

Rhetoric such as "reverse racism", or "#nypdlivesmatter", or "We are Darren Wilson", is interesting because it is always so reactionary. In each case it is Whitenesses direct response to claims of actual racism, BlackLivesMatter, and I am Mike Brown. It seems that this reactionary rhetoric is a deflection that is used to protect the collective White Ego from experiencing the negative feelings associated with internalizing the effects of racism, or the killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. Instead a "they do it toooo" defensive mechanism (such as #nypdlivesmatter") is created publicly as a safe haven for the guilt one may feel by thinking that the thug Michael Brown or thug Eric Garner got what they deserved.

SW said...

Baseball has its own brand of propaganda. "Service Uniforms" are worn at least once a year by many teams, which includes a camo jersey, and red/white/blue logo.

But the most unbearable has to be the singing of "God Bless America" during the 7th inning stretch. This is a post-9/11 development that is used to insert God into the public domain as well as, IMO promote the idea of a "homeland". It's also usually sung by a service man or woman.

If these sorts of things were being done because of actual national pride or support for our troops, it would be much more bearable. But it just seems deviant.

Wild Cat said...

It was great when the gentleman who wanted to urinate during the 7th inning "God Bless America" nationalist rally that the Yankees do was prevented from doing so by stadium security. He sued and he won.

Sporting events also suspends and perverts Fourth Amendment rights, just like the TSA.

balitwilight said...

This is what Martin Luther King (and Muhammed Ali) realised: Militarism and Racism are mutually supportive.
It is an inconvenient truth that too many "liberals" and even progressives do not understand this - and will protest racism, but salute smartly every time Our Troops (TM) are invoked, or the Washington Post propaganda pages discover some new "Threat (TM)" that needs American "military action".
Every fascist state has an identity obsession (racism) combined with fetishisztion of The Uniform, The Jackboot in all popular culture. Sound familiar?

Wild Cat said...

Now it's really just a stupid, basic formula:

---We need human meat for perpetual wars, the younger the better.
---Human meat, often young, goes to sporting events, where testosterone, victory, pain, and "teamwork" are worshiped.
---Drunk young human meat, meet your military recruiter who just happens to be in the stadium.
---Legless drunk young human meat returns to the stadium a year later to the cheers of the throng.
---Rinse. Lather. Repeat.

God Bless America, Land of Endless Human meat.

Wild Cat said...

First Amendment Defeated By "Liberal" (Again):

SW said...

The tail seems to be wagging the dog in NYC.

Wild Cat said...

Tell me about it.

I'm old enough to remember when graffiti artist Michael Stewart managed to commit suicide in the hands of the cops. The cover-up by the medical examiner and Ed Koch, Freedom Fighter, is still a stench in the air in Trumplandia.

"Liberal" NYC has been under the boot with Koch (racist and pseudo-Democrat), Giuliani, and Bloomberg.

balitwilight said...

Notice how tenderly and carefully popular media - even the de Blasio administration - is treading around the sensitivities of "Our Fine Police Officers (TM)". This all reminds me of the Yeats line: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
- It boggles the mind that America's corrupt and disgraced police have the sheer balls to take on the mantle of outrage, and are enabled to play the victims. You need nothing less than a complete forgetting of who the police have been in America's race dystopia.
- Rewind twenty years... here's part of a NY Times article on 1992 NYC police riot against "black" Mayor Dinkins: "Officials with the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which organized and promoted the rally appeared unable to control their members... Nor did they appear to discourage protesters from displaying obscene and inflammatory signs, like those depicting the Mayor with a large Afro-style haircut and swollen lips or another making reference to Mr. Dinkins as a washroom attendant."
- Rewind a little further back, and you have police officers hosing down civil rights protesters; setting attack dogs on them; driving them out of holding cells to dusty back roads for one final appointment with the KKK and a shallow grave. (For many officers this involved just a quick-change to the white costume in the trunk of the patrol car).
- Rewind a little further back, and the police are the slave patrols.
... So what decade - when - was this "Golden Age of Policing" that we missed, when the police were anything other than a violent arm of enforcement of the American apartheid order?

Gable1111 said...

Wingnut bias?

Gable1111 said...

One obvious takeaway from this is "civil rights" for those who may have had theirs violated in encounters with police, are only a consideration when the violated is white. Otherwise, anything a cop does to a non-white person is fair game.

Its only hypocrisy when you don't consider the race of the victim.

Gable1111 said...

Prologue: that drunk young human meat leaves the stadium, for his home under a bridge somewhere, used and forgotten. They could give a rat's behind about them once the killing is done.

Gable1111 said...

The "golden age" they speak of was one where, they got no push back at all, for what its worth.

James Estrada-Scaminaci III said...

So many excellent points made by astute readers. I will start with sympathies to the families of the slain officers; but also, my sympathies for all the slain Black men and women at the hands of the police.

If I were the mayor of NYC, I would not tolerate for one second the claim that we are a "wartime" police department. Excuse me, but the police must always be under civilian control and answerable, ultimately, to those who hold sovereignty in this country, we the people. They must be under democratic control of the polis. The same is true of the military and intelligence services. If they are not transparent and accountable to the civilian leadership of our cities, it is time to reform, and, if necessary, disband and start over.

Second, as others observed about the Las Vegas shootings, I will point out then while militiamen at Bundy's ranch had Bureau of Land Management officers in the cross-hairs of their sniper scopes, not one blowhard on Fox News, Christian Broadcasting Network, conservative talk radio, or the right-wing bloviating sphere said, "Wow, we've got to respect federal law enforcement because all lives matter." No, you heard not a word about the potential bloodbath. Months later and the local sheriff, the FBI, and the BLM have yet to identify one perpetrator of the federal crime of pointing a sniper rifle at a federal law enforcement officer. Of course, the militiaman who organized the sniper killer groups bragged about his role in an interview. Obama, Holder, we are still waiting for the feds to do something about that.

And third, it is not about a few bad cops (the old "few bad apples" routine). It is not about a few bad cops, it is about a system of oppression and culture of escalating violence. The police may not brutalize or kill everybody they come into contact with, but their 'stop-and-frisk' policies target entire groups of people; their War on Terror in NYC assumed that every Muslim was a potential or real terrorist--thus surveilling the entire community. The FBI creates Muslim terror plots in the country. Even if it were true that five percent of the cops are responsible for 95 percent of the police brutality charges, the system protects them; the police unions protect them; police associations of color protect them; and, most mayors protect them.

SW said...

Great commentary. Especially the first paragraph. Very well stated.

SW said...

Second paragraph that is, but the first was good too.

seeknsanity said...

Exactly right. They are whipping themselves up into a frenzy, while at the same time, pressuring this mayor of NYC to betray his own observations, where it concerns his son. Blacks should brace themselves for the pending backlash. Because, there will be some. Presented as the usual off-chance incident, as has often resulted in a denial of justice to the community.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Did you hear about that rally in Olympia where 1,000's of people came with guns to openly defy a recent law?

It happened like December 13th.

KissedByTheSun said...

Wow I just...I don't even know where to begin. The hypocrisy is staggering!

Justin M. White said...

I'm reading Douglas Blackmon's Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of African Americans from the Civil War to World War II as part of my research for the article I mentioned last week that I'd like to write. This is recommended reading for everybody here at WARN (if they haven't already done so). If you harbored any doubts that the police are and have always been the public face and crude weapon of White Supremacy in the United States, Blackmon will shatter those doubts and then some. The playbook today is identical to the reaction to the end of mass slavery: criminalization of Black Americans, use of legal system to legitimize their brutalization, the use of social death to destroy Black political and economic power, and a white vanguard (the police/deputies/white vigilantes/judges) that preaches its own respectability and the rule of law as something Black Americans "simply can't understand".

Courtney H. said...

Here is a video about the different tone that the media have used about these two cop-killers:

amnesia said...

I don't get it- what happened to those upright, freedom-loving, democratic foot-soldiers for goodness and godly plays? Where, for the sake of fairness, is the vitriol directed at white murderers, hypocrites, and the like? The psychological wages of whiteness are fully in view, never mind the accompanying ironies. Our media are rotten, law enforcement is rotten, but in the service of a corporate-political elite. I no longer watch the news, neither do I subscribe to the liberal-conservative orthodoxy. I am literally up to my ear with rage, a silent rage and incomprehension at what is going on around us. Where the heck is the NAACP, Urban League, and other so-called black-liberation types? Pussyfooting somewhere and praying for manna from the above? I am reminded of the notion of "unforgivable blackness" having reached this entirely rational conclusion after watching the goings-on in these united states. The current white crop (minus a few exceptions) see the demographic shifts and gasp 'my privilege is gone, and I may be forced to share with those people'! And they are not white for that matter! My late cousin used to pose this question whenever he was flummoxed by something:"where will I be?" I believe that is the central problematic for many whites. I fear one of these days someone will come out with guns blazing, to rid this country of the unwanteds, the unpeople, the undeserving, and those whose humananity is only granted provisional status. And to think that some humans hold other humans to ransom in the name of some (unearned) superiority complex, a complex deriving from the abuse of other humans- far and wide.

BobbyV said...

Found this comment on Crooked Timber.

As we have witnessed here in America, a white man can stalk through the supermarket with an assault rifle, and merely be a curiosity; a black man can hold a toy gun and be shot dead on the spot.

There is, today in America a de facto gun ban in effect for black
people, and this ban is created by exactly the climate of fear and chaos that gun enthusiasts are so determined to inflame.

Comment by Liberal With Attitude on Crooked Timber