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Well, I can see no way in which this will almost certainly go horribly wrong

Given recent mass outrage over police officers’ ability to kill black people with legal impunity and the brutal way they have dealt with peaceful protesters, William Bratton, Chief of the NYPD has proposed the obvious solution:

Give 350 police officers with machine guns, long rifles, and body armor, and send them to patrol the city, with a special mandate to deal with terrorists and protesters (you know, those two groups have so much in common, after all). Well, thank goodness! Why didn’t I think of that?

Bratton literally said these officers would be “dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.” Because all those events go together. Peaceful protests against police brutality are so much like anti-semitic shooters targeting shoppers at a kosher grocery and murdering many of them.

Stop and think for a minute: Bratton thinks that what we needed in recent protests was the presence of cops with machine guns. To do what, pray tell? For that matter, how would these officers have improved matters in any of NYC’s crises over the past fifteen years?

Crime in this city is at its lowest ebb in quite some time, so clearly the best move is to deploy heavily armed cops like we’re in an issue of Judge Dredd or something. The cops enacted a slow-down for two weeks, refraining from giving out tickets for bullshit offenses, and anarchy did not overtake the streets. This is nothing but a naked grab for police power, an attempt to solidify authoritarian power, and intimidate protesters as well as regular people–particularly black people.

The title of this post is clearly mistaken. The thing to fear is not that this move will happen and go horribly wrong. The thing to fear is that it will, if enacted, almost certainly go horribly right, in all the ways Bratton is envisioning.


12 thoughts on Well, I can see no way in which this will almost certainly go horribly wrong

  1. I think this why we need civilian authority. Police and military think force is the response to everything. People that are elected answer to the people.

  2. the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sidewaysNew York already has a Gestapo; so now it is time for the SS storm troopers. An appropriate line from Robocop “Welcome to Hell”. My late mother would be having panic attacks about now. She grew up in Nazi Germany. Her stories about her childhood are starting to look familiar.

    1. New York already has a Gestapo; so now it is time for the SS storm troopers.

      Really, really not OK with this. You can make considered policy critiques without descending into Godwinning.

    2. giraafffe rafffe raffffe, we need a giraffe (a giraffe raffe, needagiraffe)

      [thank you for sending a giraffe alert ~ mods]

    3. I’ve got to say, I’m not a fan either. There are serious criticisms to made of the authoritarian tilt here, but I don’t think invoking the gestapo is one of them.

    1. Oh and I meant to point out that this response is wicked great:

      Already, local advocacy groups have spoken out against the plan; Priscilla Gonzalez, Organizing Director of Communities United for Police Reform, gave this statement.
      Initial reports of Commissioner Bratton’s plans suggest the opposite of progress. His demands for less oversight of the NYPD and a more militarized police force that would use counter-terrorism tactics against protestors are deeply misguided and frankly offensive. We need an NYPD that is more accountable to New Yorkers and that stops criminalizing our communities, especially when people are taking to the streets to voice legitimate concerns about discriminatory and abusive policing. Despite growing evidence that discriminatory broken windows is a failed and harmful policing strategy, Commissioner Bratton stubbornly continues to defend and expand it.

      http://gothamist.com/2015/01/29/nypd_machine_guns.php

    2. This is my, um, “favorite” part from Bratton:

      Bratton thinks the specter of heavily armed police officers in neighborhoods will improve relations between cops and citizens (“I truly believe when cops embrace their neighborhoods, their neighborhoods will embrace them back”),

      I think, before machine guns, you should try holding your cops accountable for murdering black people. Just a suggestion.

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