Half a year after the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked widespread national protests, little has changed in the behavior of some of the most violent police departments in the country.
That much was made obvious on Monday night when a phalanx of hundreds of NYPD charged a Black Lives Matter Martin Luther King Day protest, violently beating and arresting dozens of protestors. “They weren’t approaching the police in a violent manner. Police randomly surged,” recounted witness Ms. Plaza to the New York Times.
Nypd currently playing a roadway dispersal in a public park, continuing to attack people. pic.twitter.com/iulkfetM1T
— Isabelle Leyva (@isabelle_leyva) January 19, 2021
An MLK day protest has turned into a standoff with NYPD officers, who vastly outnumber demonstrators. Several violent arrests so far. This person seemed to be pulled off the sidewalk and jumped for standing to close to the road pic.twitter.com/IUhqEiAAIT
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) January 19, 2021
2 days after the NYAG @TishJames announced a suit against the city and #nypd cops brutalized dozens of protestors, throwing punches and bikes, swinging batons, and more. #PoliceBrutality pic.twitter.com/UlWZWiyMSQ
— Nicky B (@nickybLA) January 17, 2021
Elsewhere in New York City that same night, the jackbooted NYPD goons violently disrupted a picket line by the Teamsters Joint Council 16 and its affiliated unions, who were striking for a $1 raise at Hunts Point produce market in the Bronx. Reporter Claudia Aponte from The City tweeted that “I was there on Sunday and Monday morning. Overwhelmingly peaceful. Some workers had their whole families in tow.”
This video of the NYPD charging and arresting workers on strike for just a $1/hr raise is 10,000 times more politically relevant than any image or footage coming out of DC this week https://t.co/85J72WDgwC
— Scott Heins (@scottheins) January 19, 2021
These shows of unnecessary violence and disruption come barely a week after New York’s Attorney General, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit against the NYPD for “a pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during peaceful protests” after receiving over “1,300 complaints and pieces of evidence,” reports NPR.
But the NYPD is clearly as defiant and unrepentant as ever — as police departments always are when anyone attempts to hold them accountable for their appalling actions. The absolutely psychotic cop union of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York had the nerve to blame city leadership for their violent actions, claiming that “they sent cops out to police unprecedented protests and violent riots with no plan, no strategy and no support.”
Manhattan District Attorney candidate Tahanie Abousi pointed out that the response to the Black Lives Matter protesters was obviously planned and well-prepared and the tepid excuses of the police unions don’t match up with reality.
The OIG report said the NYPD didn’t have a plan or enough officers to handle protests- that’s why they were violent to protestors. This looks pretty planned & prepared to me.
We are past 100+ page reports detailing police misconduct without requiring any accountability. https://t.co/xAFmpDD65r
— Tahanie Aboushi (@TahanieNYC) January 19, 2021
AG James is seeking to implement reforms and install a monitor to provide oversight for the NYPD’s response to protests, but it is fairly clear that this point that the NYPD is entirely unreformable. The Gothamist notes that the NYPD has been under a federal monitor for the past six years to oversee “sweeping reforms to stop-and-frisk” and address racial disparities, but a 2019 report from the NY ACLU found that “there has been virtually no progress made on reducing racial disparities.”
It is absolutely disgusting to see police unions tweet empty praise for Martin Luther King and then violently arrest the marchers braving the cold to demand that police recognize the value of Black lives — but sadly, there are few hypocrisies more uniquely American than lip service for diversity from the enforcers of white supremacy. To protect Black lives and Black dignity, the fundamental nature of American policing must be changed.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.