Saturday, 26 July 2014
Notes on the Staten Island chokehold
Notable facts: Bill Bratton, the new police chief, specifically mentioned that he is no longer interested in numbers, as in total arrests for things like marihuana possession, loitering, etc., as a sign that cops are working. This is a radical break from unofficial tradition, denied but proven by things like the Adrian Schoolcraft recordings of a precinct officer insisting that patrolmen get out there and score arrests. If cops are no longer pressured into harassing people to get write-ups, incidents like the chokehold killing may be less frequent.
Mayor De Blasio’s first comment included his confirmation of what any observer can see, that the cop appears to be using an unauthorized chokehold. He then defers to the inevitable ‘investigation’, but the shift from past practice of refusing to suggest any misconduct is significant.
Al Sharpton is asking for federal civil rights intervention given that the NYPD cannot be trusted to institute reforms on its own as evidenced by the chokehold that the NYPD itself has ostensibly forbidden. The Justice Department sounds interested (‘closely monitoring’ the probe). Bratton, though he can’t say so publicly, may well be happy to see them intervene to help him bring the department under control.
Bratton’s appointment and De Blasio’s accession to the mayor’s job were supposed to usher in a new age of police-community relations. I went to a holds-hand-and-sing affair at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem a few days ago led by Leora Fulani where she put on a workshop-performance of her ‘Cops & Kids’ trainings, endorsed by Bratton who introduced her. It was well-meaning and probably useful and also pretty lame. It’s not likely to extinguish the renewed bitterness about how easy it is for cops to put a non-violent black guy to death.
Posted by Tim Frasca at 07:28