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Is This What Fear Looks Like?

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Is This What Fear Looks Like?

Aggressive contempt for police officers undermines the Left’s argument that minority communities are terrified of law enforcement. July 25, 2019
New York
Public safety

“Yooo they violated them!! They viiiiolated themmm!!!!” So went the commentary of a woman heard on a now-viral cellphone video showing two male police officers in Brooklyn being doused with buckets of water last Saturday, after approaching a group on the street. Even after the officers had turned and walked away, perpetrators kept dumping water on them, while onlookers pointed and laughed. Another video that made the rounds on Saturday shows two NYPD officers being drenched, taunted, and, at one point, assaulted by a crowd consisting of mostly young black men. The officers seemed to be holding a handcuffed suspect on the hood of a black sedan.

Many were dismayed by how the officers were treated, including Police Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch, who called the incidents “the end result of the torrent of bad policies and anti-police rhetoric that has been streaming out of City Hall and Albany for years now.” The videos, however, are just two of many recent examples (in New York and around the country) that reveal a glaring incongruity between anti-police rhetoric—which insists that minority communities are terrified of cops—and the reality of what goes on in many inner-city neighborhoods.

Yesterday, the PBA posted a video to Facebook of a young black man launching a vulgar tirade at a uniformed police officer, even challenging him to a fight, as onlookers giggled:

 

Two weeks ago, an NYPD arrest was interrupted by a belligerent crowd angrily hurling epithets at the cops.

Earlier this year, two young black men streamed a video of themselves flashing guns and making threats after pulling up alongside a Chicago police cruiser. A few months later, John Kass wrote in the Chicago Tribune of two CPD officers letting a drug suspect go on the city’s mostly minority West Side after a “mob appeared, threatening the officers, surrounding them, threatening to reach for their own weapons to shoot them dead.”

Last year, comedy duo Desus & Mero laughed their way through a video of six uniformed NYPD officers being berated by a group of men—one of whom refers to an Asian officer as “Jackie Chan.”

A video posted to YouTube last summer purports to show a Bushwick pot dealer weighing out some marijuana on the trunk of an NYPD cruiser. Around the same time, a young black man walked into a Harlem precinct to harangue and threaten the desk sergeant, repeatedly telling him to “suck a . . . dick.” That refrain is familiar to another group of NYPD officers (including a female) who were verbally assaulted on their way out of a Bronx apartment building last year.

In yet another video posted to YouTube, last month, with the hashtags #Freedom and #Policebrutality, a 12 year-old girl, an alleged shoplifter, curses out a group of cops.

More examples of this kind of behavior are not hard to find. These videos weigh against the commonly heard claim that America’s minority communities deeply fear the police. That fear, the story goes, is so deep that it has become customary for parents to give their children what’s become known as “the talk.”

“What parents have done for decades who have children of color, especially young men of color,” said New York mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014, “is train them to be very careful when they have . . . an encounter with a police officer.” Writing in USA Today, de Blasio’s son Dante asserted that “young black people” are taught (as he was) “to fear the people meant to protect us.”

This characterization doesn’t square with the behavior shown in the 14 examples linked to in this article—which themselves represent just a fraction of what law enforcement officers around the country endure every day. Watch these videos and ask yourself: “Is this what fear looks like?”

It’s worth noting that police in these examples showed admirable restraint. Here again, large gaps separate the Left’s rhetoric and reality. The available data suggest that, though many documented cases of police misconduct exist, such cases are statistically anomalous and far from the norm. Police rarely use force; when they do, it’s rarely enough to cause serious injury. The Left’s distortion of reality may, in some cases, stoke genuine fear in minority communities—but it seems, based on video evidence, that what it inspires much more often is contempt. Either way, we’re all worse off.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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