You know what would help fight crime?
Fewer cops, apparently.
At least that’s the argument being floated by activists in New York City after two videos went viral. These separate incidents involving physical altercations in the subway system have led to calls to cancel the hiring of new MTA cops.
City and state elected officials joined advocates outside City Hall on Monday to demand Mayor Bill de Blasio take punitive action against officers involved in the unrelated incidents and for Governor Andrew Cuomo end his push to add 500 additional MTA police to fight “quality of life” issues like homelessness and fare evasion.
“Police cannot solve all of our problems,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who added he would instead like to see expanded mental health services and supportive housing.
In the first of two videos circulated on social media, roughly 10 officers are seen boarding a stopped train at the Franklin Avenue station in Brooklyn, where they subdue and arrest a man sitting in a train car with his hands raised.
In case you’re wondering how an arrest in NYC goes down. The guy has made absolutely no indication that he would flee or fight and wasn’t trying to hide.
If you can’t see, the reason everyone moved was because all the police had taken out their guns and aimed at him. pic.twitter.com/dAstrtMntz
— Elad Nehorai (@PopChassid) October 25, 2019
“Call my mom,” the man can be heard saying as the cops approached the train.
Another passenger can be heard telling officers that she saw him with a gun.
The second clip, tweeted out by Shaun King, depicts a scene of officers struggling to subdue several young people on a subway platform. One officer can be seen punching one of the men in the face. King demands to know the names and badge numbers of the officers involved because they are punching teenagers in the face.
I need to know the names and badge numbers of all of these officers who are punching these young Black boys in the face. They are teenagers.
None of this brutality is OK.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 27, 2019
Hey Shaun, where is your outrage over these “teenagers” throwing punches at cops?
“The new police officers are not going to fix our crumbling MTA system,” said Yehudah Webster, from the group Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. “They’re only going to contribute to the harm and trauma that black and brown people face day-in and day-out.”
NYPD Transit Chief Edward Delatorre said that police had believed the man filmed at the Franklin Avenue station had brandished a firearm. When cops had previously tried to stop him, he ran, according to Delatorre.
“What the video doesn’t show is a credible witness alerting our officers to a man brandishing a gun,” Delatorre tweeted. “When officers approached the man in question, he fled into a subway station and onto a train to escape. Only at the next station did the man show compliance, not when he first ran.”
Ultimately, the man at Franklin Avenue was arrested for fare evasion.
The MTA announced in September that it had planned to hire 500 new cops. This announcement drew skepticism from advocates for social justice, because appeasing the offended masses should always take precedent over fighting crime and creating safer commutes for passengers. The proposed hirings came under the direction of Governor Cuomo, calling for added police in light of a string of publicized MTA worker assaults, increasing fare evasion and the city’s affordability crisis that has allegedly sent more homeless New Yorkers underground to seek shelter.
Transit advocates have questioned whether the MTA should spend what they call ‘limited resources’ on added police and have implored the authority to strive harder to cut excessive spending internally. The officers would cost the MTA $260 million through 2023, according to an analysis from the Citizens Budget Committee.
“What we see here today is a governor who is in charge of a failed metro system,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Antonio Reynoso, “and wants to absolve himself of responsibility by blaming it on the poor.”
Peter Ajemian, a spokesman for Cuomo, in a statement called for a review of the incidents but did not address criticism of the governor’s plans for more police.
“The incidents captured by video over the weekend are very disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated,” Ajemian said.
The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Could these calls for fewer cops eventually lead to calls for no cops? That would never happen… right?
But it was just a few months ago that we detailed that very request from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti was asking the LAPD police chief to stop pulling people over when they violate the law.
The Metropolitan Division that cover south Los Angeles increased traffic stops dramatically in 2018. The issue for some civil rights organizations is that nearly half of all traffic stops made by the division included African-American motorists.
They say that this is alarming due to the ratio of African-Americans to the general population in the community. While the Los Angeles Times stated that their review does not provide proof that officers are racially profiling suspects, several organizations claim that there is no other explanation.
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Of course, those organizations carefully avoid discussing socio-economic divides or crime rates in different ethnic or cultural communities.
As part of the review, no data was provided regarding the rate that black motorists commit violations in comparison to other members of the same community. Had those details been included in the review, it may have provided some insight into the reasons for the stops.
ACLU attorney Melanie Ochoa said that officers actively searching for people who might be violating the law is proof that “harassment and targeted are baked into the way the department operates,” according to the Times piece.
Hit the pause button.
When did police actively watching out for crime being committed equate to harassment? One should hope that members of all law enforcement agencies are “actively searching” for people who might be violating the law.
Not being satisfied with claims of racial profiling, the ACLU and 11 other groups wrote a letter to the mayor, the chief of police and the Police Commission overseeing the LAPD asking the Metropolitan Division to be completely pulled out of south Los Angeles.
In what amounts to nothing more than an attempt to create a free-for-all, the groups claim, according to the letter, that the LAPD’s practice of stopping people from preventing crime “fails to address safety in the community, and only leads to incarceration and harassment of African American and Latino people and exacerbates racial and wealth disparities.”
If a person of color runs a stop sign or a red light, speeds, or violates any other sections of the vehicle code, they should be left alone to continue committing said violations.
Apparently, to the letter’s authors, crime is only worth addressing if it does not involve minority member of the community.
While this letter does not state that minorities in south Los Angeles should be free to commit crimes without police intervention, one could easily arrive at that conclusion.
The groups demanded more community policing, mental health services and programs for youth. These are great programs, but independent of law enforcement in the community, that is all they are, programs.
The LAPD commented to the letter stating, “We understand the delicate balance between our enforcement posture and our steadfast commitment to building relationships, engaging the community and enhancing public trust.”
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While the LAPD is committed to having conversations to address the groups claims, they did not indicate that the Metropolitan Division will be leaving south Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) fought back against the claims of the letter.
“Let’s be very clear, Los Angeles police officers target behavior, not skin color.”
The LAPPL also said that the Times’ analysis of the Division is “flawed, skewed, and nonsensical,” and that it “demonstrates the implicit bias some possess against reporting facts, put in the appropriate context, about Los Angeles police officers and how we do our jobs.”
The union also said, “that preconceived false narrative, promulgated by the Times and its deliberate omission of important contextual data, admittedly zero evidence and any semblance of fair analysis, is designed to paint Metropolitan Division officers as racists who randomly stop black drivers.”
Once again, the act of comitting a crime is irrelevant as long as it fits the prescribed narrative that cops are racists.