I have spent about half of my working life in the inner city, outer boroughs of New York. I have worked in some scary places, from Hunt’s Point and Mott Haven to Bed-Sty and Brownsville, at all hours of the day and night. I have had my share of interactions with the law enforcement community, and not all of them have been pleasant. I have known, personally, a number of cops, retired or still active, and most of them were friendly, intelligent, funny, and happy to share their stories with me. A few were dicks, and I can think of at least two who were probably sociopaths. I can make the same general statements about the other people I’ve dealt with, members of probably every minority community you can think of, Hasidic Jews, Italians, Jamaicans, Africans, Russians, Arabs, Puerto Ricans, and more, and the overwhelming majority of them have been, at the very least, civil, and very often far more than that. I remember one occasion long ago when I was lost in the subway system. I was new to NYC and may have been over-served, and some Hispanic guy got off his train, walked me through the bowels of a cavernous subway station in some god-forsaken corner of the Bronx, and made sure I got on the train that would take me back to Brooklyn where I belonged. My brother, wherever you are, I wish you well.
That was not an isolated incident. In my experience, most of the people that you are likely to meet in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx are willing to help you if they can, I know this because I’ve lived it. Manhattan, maybe not so much. That is one of the reasons it pisses me off when I hear people, mostly fat rich white ones from the ‘burbs, trying to trivialize the Black Lives Matter movement with this ‘all lives matter’ bullshit. I hope that your excuse is ignorance, because if that ain’t it, it only leaves small-mindedness, poverty of spirit, or racism.
Take your choice.
A guy who beats his wife in the burbs is likely to get away with it, at least until she moves out and writes her book. Try that in the city and the neighbors will probably hear or see something and call the cops, and your ass is going to jail. There are plenty of criminals in the burbs, but they are far more likely to be guys who work for companies like JP Morgan Chase or AIG, and they are not going to jail.
And the thing you have to understand about cops is that they are in an impossible position, and they do what they do, which is largely what their fathers did before them. In the course of researching novels I have talked to plenty of police officers. When I tell you that it used to be common for a cop to carry a throwaway, which is a pistol with the serial number filed off, if you can’t figure out why, then you probably shouldn’t move out of your mother’s basement. What are the first words you hear when a cop shoots someone? ‘He had a gun, I took it away from him, I got it right here.’ How do I know this? Your brothers in blue told me about it.
We don’t know exactly how many people are killed by law enforcement in any given year, because not all jurisdictions are required to report such things, but the number is probably about 1200. If you are white, your chances are about 1.7 per million. If you’re black, that number goes up to 7.2.
More or less.
If math is not your thing, those numbers basically reflect the reality that if you are black you have a far greater chance of getting jammed up with law enforcement than if you are some other color. And believe it or not, the situation is probably far less egregious than it used to be, for one reason.
Video, either from a phone, or a body or dash camera.
You know it’s true.
We ought to pay cops commensurate to the hazards they face. We ought to make sure they have all the training and support they need. We ought to empower them to use their own judgement, and we ought to quit leaning on them to make arrests for penny-ante bullshit, like selling loosies, just to pump the stats. And we ought to weed out the ones who suffer from testosterone poisoning or a cowboy fetish.
But let me ask you, Mr. ‘White Lives Matter,’ who do you think would be more welcome: you in their neighborhoods, or they in yours? Don’t bother to tell me, I already know.
Jesus is ashamed of you.
(Video courtesy of NY Daily News)