The New York Police Department is using instances of justified rebellious actions as an excuse to mount a racist, Central Park Five-style roundup of any and all suspects, as long as they’re Black and poor.
In the wake of a media wave of reactionary indignation — incredibly, at people resisting harassing cops – local news is assisting the NYPD by running photos on TV of 15 people — all African American — “wanted” by the police for dousing cops with water in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, N.Y., and in Harlem, N.Y., on July 20. As of July 31, four young African-American men have been arrested.
The mass incarceration system is throwing out a flurry of charges — “obstructing governmental conduct,” “criminal mischief,” “harassment,” “disorderly conduct” — for righteous expressions of opposition to the police occupation of oppressed neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, no basis could be found to even charge a white cop, Daniel Pantaleo, for putting Eric Garner, a Black man, to death with an outlawed chokehold — a killing the whole world witnessed in horror on video July 17, 2014.
It’s not surprising that “liberal” Mayor Bill DeBlasio has joined arch-racists former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Donald Trump in the hypocritical chorus of outrage against Black and Latinx protesters. In addition to ramping up racism, this media furor over “disrespecting police” opportunistically pushed the outrage and protests over killer-cop Pantaleo being exonerated out of the headlines.
What were the cops, whom the communities clearly want out, doing when mini-rebellions broke out in the midst of soaring heat and humidity on July 20? Breaking up crowds of people who had opened hydrants trying to get relief during a record heat wave. This was the same weekend that thousands of people were also without electricity as Con Ed shut off power to thousands of Brooklyn residents. Not having air conditioning only intensified the crisis.
The heat index ran over 110 degrees. With no help from corrupt institutions such as NYC Housing Authority, Con Ed or the Metropolitan Transit Authority — whose trains stopped running during rush hour on Friday, July 19 — affected neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx took it upon themselves to deal with this dangerous situation.
Facing heat strokes and dehydration, neighborhood residents should have gotten help. Instead they got harassment and stepped-up stop-and-frisk from the vicious NYPD.
The Netflix sensation, “When They See Us,” about the Central Park Five perfectly dramatized the attitude of the police being played out now with the NYPD’s stated intention of arresting 15 more people after already arresting three. Thirty years after the frameup of the Central Park Five, there’s another racist dragnet where arrests of any Black or Brown person will do.
When working and oppressed people are suffering during a life-threatening weather emergency, humanitarian exceptions should be made by the city government and the NYPD — open up the hydrants and give people an immediate, life-saving way to cool off! But that kind of compassion doesn’t occur to city officials and the NYPD whose job it is to promote capitalist law and order.
Under capitalism the police are incapable of learning lessons. They exist solely to protect the rich by fomenting racism and attacking workers and the poor. If the pundits are concerned about anarchy and chaos, they should be calling for people’s solutions for the rampant homelessness, joblessness and lack of health care that plague New York.
That’s why we say:
Stop the Racist Occupation of Black, Latinx & All Oppressed Neighborhoods, from Brooklyn to Harlem to the Bronx
Our Communities Need Services, Jobs, Health Care, Not Racist Police in the Streets or the Subways!
Drop All Charges! No More Arrests!
(WW Photo: Sofia Adams )