On Saturday, with protests still going on around the country and exploding at Berkeley over a Staten Island grand jury's refusal to indict the New York City police officer who choked Eric Garner to death, former St. Louis cop Redditt Hudson wrote in the Washington Post, "I was floored by the dysfunctional culture I encountered. I won’t say all, but many of my peers were deeply racist." The racism and abuse of power was so fucked up that it drove Hudson to quit after five years on the job.
Hudson concluded, through his own experience, "The problem is that cops aren’t held accountable for their actions, and they know it. These officers violate rights with impunity. They know there’s a different criminal justice system for civilians and police." (Cue the inevitable discrediting of him.)
Almost anyone would respond to Hudson with "No shit." But the piece brings up a point that the Rude Pundit has been making since Ferguson and even more so since the Eric Garner case. Where the hell are the cops on this? Where are the police officials and union leaders who are willing to condemn Daniel Pantaleo?
In fact, when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio made remarks asking for "positive change" in how the police handle cases like Garner's (or any of the many cases where the use of force has led to deadly mistakes), Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said, "What police officers felt yesterday after that press conference was that they were thrown under the bus." He pretty much accused the mayor of fanning the flames of racism because de Blasio said that he told his own mixed-race son (who has an awesome 'fro) to be careful when dealing with the police.
In one of those fucking stupid things that fucking stupid people say, one cop remarked, "Did he tell his son to be wary of his police bodyguards, that he should be afraid of them as they pick him up at school and drive him where he needs to go?" One can assume that the bodyguards realize that Dante de Blasio isn't an automatic threat because they aren't just driving up to him on the streets. It's a subtle but crucial difference. But the shit-for-brains commenters on cop message boards went nutzoid, as commenters generally do, acting paranoid and under attack by the public.
Here's the deal: If you don't want people to think you're racist psychopaths, then get rid of the cops who make it seem like you're racist psychopaths. Conservatives want to be free to fire teachers all the time if their students' test scores go below a certain number, no matter what the exigent circumstances are for the students and the schools. They demand that the teachers' unions accede to this demand and do what people who aren't even in education want. When it comes to the police, though, conservatives are ready to blow the boys in blue and make excuses for them. Christ, ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, fresh off fellating the Ferguson cops, broke out the lip balm and knee pads for the NYPD, who, it should be noted, are very familiar with Giuliani's mouth.
The Rude Pundit knows all the arguments, valid and not valid: "You don't know all the facts," "Garner shouldn't have resisted," "Cops have to deal with the worst of humanity." And he's not going to pretend to know the effect of confronting the bullshit that the police see every day. But he's pretty sure that he wouldn't be out there, offering knee-jerk defense of someone who so obviously to so many people, at the very least, violated protocol and was indifferent to someone's humanity. He's especially sure he that he wouldn't defend a guy whose prior actions against black men have been problematic, at best, and outright illegal, at worst.
There is a huge trust gap that is not unjustified. One cop killing one man, even unintentionally, undoes a million positive actions. A pattern of harassment, let alone killing of non-whites? Man, that takes a fuckton of work to overcome. You gotta make that population trust you again.
Instead of whining about being thrown under the bus or putting up the blue wall of silence or whatever the fuck they're calling it these days, it's incumbent upon police officials to demonstrate that there are some things they will not tolerate. The police need to show they believe injustice doesn't lead to justice. And individual cops might not be able to speak out until they're off the force, like Hudson, but they sure as hell should be wanting their leaders to demand change, too.
Or you can retrench, insult, and bully. That's worked well for the police so far.