Community anger escalating over NYPD's continued obsession with "broken windows theory" of policing that appears to justify police brutality, and even violent deaths, for low-level crimes.
Five months before Eric Garner was choked to death by police on Staten Island, ex-Marine Jerome Murdough died while being incarcerated at Riker's Island.
Eric Garner died in a chokehold by NYPD on Staten Island on July 17.
Do the officers of the New York Police Department get to decide if the suspects of low-level crimes deserve a death sentence on the spot ?
That's the question many political bloggers are asking this week-end, as Mayor Bill de Blasio heads for the isle of Capri in the aftermath of the NYPD's choking death of married Staten Island dad, Eric Garner, 43.
During last year's mayoral election, then candidate Bill de Blasio campaigned on promises to end policing tactics that unfairly targeted the poor and people of color. But then after he won the mayoral election, mayor-elect de Blasio swiftly made clear that he was appointing William Bratton as his new police commissioner, a signal of coming broken campaign promises on police reform. Mr. Bratton has a long history of stoking racial tensions by championing a controversial approach to policing known by the moniker, "broken windows." Under this policing theory, the cops target very low-level crimes before larger crimes are committed.
But such an approach has been extremely controversial with civil rights activists, communities of color, and political bloggers, because the NYPD's obsession with combatting crime is focusing all of its resources on people suspected of committing very low-level offenses, like privately selling single cigarettes, as Mr. Garner was accused of doing, instead of major criminals. For example, former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has been accused of using millions of dollars of confiscated criminal assets to pay for a campaign spokesman, Mortimer Matz. Yet, Mr. Hynes remains free, even those these accusations have been reported and repeated through valid media outlets through out New York state. While government reform activists wait for the NYPD to arrest former D.A. Hynes for the larceny of over $1 million, Mr. Garner is imposed an immediate death sentence for trying to sell single cigarettes for 50¢.
Jerome Murdough died on Feb. 15 while being incarcerated at Riker's Island.
But Mr. Garner's death is not the first time when the city's law enforcement has been accused of causing the death of an innocent person under the de Blasio-Bratton administration. Last February, a former U.S. Marine died while in law enforcement custody at Riker's Island.
Like with Mr. Garner's situation, the former Marine, Jerome Murdough, first attracted police attention because of Commissioner Bratton's obsession with "broken windows" policing. Mr. Murdough's only crime was that he was homeless, and when police took him into custody, he had been huddling in the stairwell of a New York City public housing development, seeking warmth from the frigid, polar-express winter experienced by the Northeast. The frail, the poor, people in crisis, and people of color are the targets of Police Commissioner Bratton's insistence on terrorizing those with the least. And all of this sadness and drama is approved by Mayor de Blasio, a blatant contradiction to his campaign promises to reform the NYPD.
The calls for NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to be fired, or to resign, are beginning to grow.
On last night's edition of NY1 The Call with Emmy Award-winning journalist John Schiumo, the nearly universal sentiment was that the NYPD were out of control. It appears that Mayor de Blasio's promises to reform the NYPD have gone unfulfilled. Thus far, though, the mainstream media has been giving Mayor de Blasio a free pass for having to failed to reform the NYPD, but already political bloggers, such as Suzannah B. Troy, and grass roots groups, like New Yorkers Against Bratton, have not let up on demanding reforms. Ms. Troy was assaulted last year in a case that the NYPD refused to investigate, Ms. Troy alleges, in order to manipulate crime statistics in New York. And New Yorkers Against Bratton has been the sole group to take a hard line position against the new mayor over his broken promises to overhaul the corrupt NYPD. Indeed, at last spring's Left Form 2014, various activists collaborated on an open forum to draw attention to how many nonprofit reform groups have deescalated calls for police reform out of deference to the new mayor.
This is Commissioner Bratton's second service as head of the city's police department. He had previously served under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's first term, but resigned in 1996 amid a probe into 21 out-of-town trips he had taken and other sources of friction with former Mayor Giuliani. During his brief first stint as commissioner, NYPD were involved in the choking death of Anthony Baez, a controversy that critics of Commissioner Bratton readily point to, in demonstration of his callous disregard of police brutality and police murder. Now that two deaths of innocent people have occurred in Mayor de Blasio's young administration, political bloggers, activists, and minority communities wonder how many more deaths, incidences of police brutality on senior citizens, incidences of people of color being refused peaceful accommodation on public transportation, and military-style police raids will it take before the nonprofit "veal pen" reform groups remobilize to renew their demands for a complete overhaul of the NYPD, beginning with the Commissioner Bratton's removal from office.