As president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch may be obligated to stand up for every union member who commits a questionable act, even an indefensible one. However, his actions and tone are those of thug, of someone more like a semi-literate television Mafia capo rather than a responsible police officer. Lynch has created, or highlighted, a fissure that exists between an insubordinate, armed police force and the people of New York City, a large number of whom took to the streets in December to protest police treatment of minorities. Why has the media styled growing questions about a pattern of police conduct as an issue between Lynch’s rank and file and the mayor? Possibly because Lynch has spun it that way. Mayor Bill de Blasio owes “New York’s Finest” no apology for voicing concern about dubious actions by some officers – one of whom used a banned chokehold that killed Eric Garner and another who opened the door to a public housing stairwell with the use of a loaded and drawn gun, thereby killing Akai Gurley. The mayor owes no apology for drawing a distinction between officers who serve the public trust and those whose actions invite scrutiny. In every his pronouncement de Blasio has indicated that he does “have the back” of a responsible police force, despite the disrespect of those who literally have turned their backs on him at recent public events, including funerals of assassinated officers. Nonetheless, some contrition is due: Lynch owes an apology to New Yorkers for a work slowdown that has cost the city as much as $10 million per week, according to the Citizen’s Budget Commission, which bases the figure on a drop in the issuance of parking tickets. The N.Y. Daily News reports that Lynch has told his members to go back to doing half of their former workload. Meanwhile, with all this going on, Lynch through the PBA website and in newspaper ads thanks “real New Yorkers” for not believing that their insubordination has anything to do with labor negotiations and for “holding accountable” those who stir up hatred and violence against police officers. The question is what kind of people does Lynch regard as “real New Yorkers” because sadly, almost half of his members, notably the white ones, don’t qualify. Some 40 percent are suburban and exurbanites, according to data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Census Bureau. That is a smaller percentage than those other large U.S. cities, but the numbers provoke even more thought when they are examined along racial lines. While 77 percent of black officers live in the five boroughs and 76 percent of Hispanic ones do, only 45 percent of white officers are “real New Yorkers,” if being a “real New Yorker” means residing here and paying city taxes. Minority police officers are more likely than their white colleagues to be willing to live among the people they serve and, apparently, be comfortable with us and raise their families alongside ours. When it comes to living here, can we say that New York City police officers are turning their backs? If minority cops can find a way to afford living here, why can’t – or won’t — white ones? Could moving out of the boroughs be the most questionable act of all? Please scroll down to the “Leave a reply” box and comment.
Police officer Richard Haste, who gunned down unarmed Ramarley Graham by his grandmother’s toilet in the Bronx nearly two years ago, may yet be indicted. U.S. District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel cleared the federal civil suit against him to proceed. Former Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the New York Police Department are also named as defendants.
On Feb. 2, 2012, Haste and his partner pursued Martin from the street because they thought he was acting suspiciously. Without calling for back-up, the officers charged after him and onto private property without a search warrant. When the three stood before the toilet, Haste’s partner called out that the kid has a gun, so the Haste shot him down. Oops! Look, in fairness the police were onto something — frightened Graham was flushing away marijuana when he died– maybe a plastic bag in his shaking hand gleamed like a gun.
This case deserves far more media attention than it has received, particularly by the major print media. However, the fact that this horrific incident has been so under-reported makes it more likely that many in New York have no opinion about the incident and could sit on a jury. The death of this young man is as worthy of nation attention and prolonged discussion as the Trayvon Martin case in Florida in which a black youth was killed by a neighborhood watch coordinator. [Enter “Ramarley Graham” on this blog’s search box to find two previous presentinthecity posts on the death]
A brief history of the policeman’s days in court thus far: Officer Haste pled not guilty to first and second degree manslaughter charges in June, 2012. In May 2013, the case was dismissed on a technicality when State Supreme Court Judge Steven Barrett ruled that the prosecution had not given proper instructions to a grand jury. Last August, a second grand jury decided not to indict, which led Graham’s family to ask the federal government to intervene. In a pending review, the U.S. Attorney’s office is considering whether Graham’s civil rights were violated.
As Jeff Mays of DNA Info reports in detail, Paulet Minzie, the owner of the building where Graham lived, has also filed suit against the police. She alleges that Haste and other officers terrorized and humiliated her and her family members when they banged on her door to gain admittance. Minzie says that she jumped out of the shower and grabbed a towel when she heard the pounding on her door. In the terror of the moment she says she exposed herself to the officers and in fear urinated on herself.
In a full story on the latest developments, Khouri A. Atkinson of The Amsterdam News reports that Judge Castel asked the parties to consider whether they want the case decided by a mediator. They have until Jan. 14 to decide. The next court hearing for both lawsuits—filed by Graham’s family and Minzie—is Aug. 1.
I hope there will be a full trial with a detailed record. I want to know how Haste and his partner were trained — how did they come to be on our streets with loaded weapons making judgement calls? It is proper that Kelly is a defendant, because police are unlikely to be better, or even worse, than police policies.
I want to know Haste’s background — was he born and raised in New York City or is he a suburbanite come here to give multi-cultured city people what for? Am I far off the mark when the suburbanite police force, roaming this city where they can’t afford to live, make me think of Hessian soldiers hired by the British around 1776 to subdue unruly colonists? I honor the fact that the police are first responders — even though former Mayor Bloomberg did tell an audience at MIT that the police were his own army. Let us hope that the federal courts will help us sort this out.
If this is how elite newspaper editors and the police behave, no wonder miscreants are looking good. As shocking as the news that the Bronx grand jury failed to indict the policeman who gunned down Ramarley Graham by his grandmother’s toilet is the way the New York Times treated the story.
This morning it ran yet another “blacks love bad boys Spitzer and Weiner” story on the front page of its printed edition, while placing the Bronx-cop-goes-free-for-killing-unarmed-black-youth on way back on page 13.
The Times had an index note at the bottom of its page one “Police Killing Won’t Go To Trial” but that seemed a little obscure. In contrast, the old news was prominent — the Times also ran stories about African American support for law-bending candidates on July 15, July 20 and July 29, so it was hard to find the news there.
I sent this comment to the NY Times this morning, but they did not publish it. I also emailed my concerns to its Public Editor. The vile treatment of the late Ramarley Graham by the NY Times, a paper that I rely on, is the inspiration for this blog. Horrible things are happening in New York City today, and it is not ordinary citizens who perpetrate them nor can street criminals equal the harm done by our failed elites. Bull Connor and Boss Tweed come to my mind every day.