NYPD + Facebook (Someone did not read the privacy settings…)
Today in class, we briefly discussed the current problem that the New York Police Department is facing. Recently a Facebook group was uncovered, in which police officers assigned to the West Indian Day Parade were venting with highly offensive language, referring to parade-goers as “savages” and “animals”. Below are some of the comments found on the Facebook page.
The comments in the group included anger at police and city officials and expressions of anxiety about policing what has often been a dangerous event. “Why is everyone calling this a parade,” one said. “It’s a scheduled riot.” Another said: “We were widely outnumbered. It was an eerie feeling knowing we could be overrun at any moment.”
“Welcome to the Liberal NYC Gale,” said another, “where if the cops sneeze too loud they get investigated for excessive force but the ‘civilians’ can run around like savages and there are no repercussions.”
“They can keep the forced overtime,” said one writer, adding that the safety of officers comes “before the animals.”
Wrote another: “Bloodbath!!! The worst detail to work.”
“I say have the parade one more year,” wrote a commenter who identified himself as Dan Rodney, “and when they all gather drop a bomb and wipe them all out.”
Coincidentally, I just finished reading The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation of the Edge, by T.J. English, a book describing the interracial tensions between Blacks, Puerto Ricans and White police officers during the 60s, 70s and early 80s. Within the book, English focuses on cases in which institutional discrimination shaped the lives of Blacks and White Officers during this period. A lot of the language above was common in the ways that White officers referred to minorities in these decades, begging the question has discrimination decreased in the NYPD or simply gone underground? If so, how can this be targeted and erased?
While I do believe discrimination has decreased in the NYPD due to higher integration of minority groups, at the same time the issue of police officers enforcing rules in areas they do not live in creates a huge power dynamic, which takes on a racialized aspect in many parts that have a large percentage of minority residents.
Another issue which this situation raises is that of the role of Facebook. Were these thoughts meant to be inherently private, made in a moment of resentment with the comfort that is was private? This seems unlikely since the New York Times matched 60% of the names in the Facebook conversation with those of actual NYPD officers. If they did not intend for it to be private, then these police officers were not thinking straight in allowing their names to be used. This issue with Facebook, brings up a bit of the private vs. public conversation we had about our blog. The internet, Facebook especially, makes the creation of media easy, creating an instant gratifying release to pent up emotions.
The issue is then is how to address these issues. How can these discriminatory beliefs and opinions be removed from the NYPD, a group that already has a long history of racial insensitivity? Would there be a test or forcing officers to take a Race & Ethnicity sociology class?
To read more on this issue: