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.