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There are many political reasons to promote the idea that police work is dark and dangerous. The Fraternal Order of Police uses this excuse to secure laws and policies that protect officers from facing consequences when they kill a member of the community. Heather Mac Donald used this romantic idea of police work to write “The War on Cops” as an excuse to blame the black community for the violence they experience at the hands of the police. Donald Trump uses this false narrative in efforts to bolster his claim that he would be the Law and Order president.
At face value, it might seem reasonable to buy the premise that police work is dangerous – even deadly. Once the surface is scratched, though, the idea that police work is dangerous falls apart completely. Despite the rhetoric that there is a war on cops and the romantic idea that police officers are more John McLane than Officer Wiggins – the reality is that law enforcement work is remarkably risk-free. Here’s a list of 9 things about being a cop that might come as a surprise to the Yipee-ki-yay crowd.
There is false information being fed to the public through national reporting networks such as FOX News and CNN that claims there is a War on Cops. It has been supposedly verified by the editorialized reporting produced by Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute, one of the most conservative right-wing think tanks in the United States. This fake research has been used to lie about the Black Lives Matter movement, call into question the reality of police brutality, and promote the idea that police officers are the victims of brutality rather than the aggressors.
Heather MacDonald’s pseudo-academic pennings are written much in the style of the Trump campaign’s general rhetorical strategy. They center themselves by, among other strategies, rewording the argument being used against them to blame the accuser for the same act, overwhelming the communication channel with false information and asserting that this false information is absolute truth. And they are based on complete lies.
In her opinion piece “Academic research on police shootings and race,” the author of the War on Cops concludes:
police officers are at greater risk from blacks than unarmed blacks are from police officers…. the per capita rate of officers being feloniously killed is 45 times higher than the rate at which unarmed black males are killed by cops. And an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black assailant is 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop.
This might seem like large numbers – overwhelming numbers even. These numbers, though, are little more than statistical misrepresentations designed to mislead MacDonald’s audience into thinking that police are endangered by black people. In order to back this claim, she uses techniques reminiscent of the eugenics movement and constructs a scenario in which the lives of black people are not worth as much as the lives of police officers.
Her work is being generated at one of the most conservative right-wing think tanks in the United States, the Manhattan Institute, which spearheaded such attacks on the black community as “the use of ‘broken windows’ or community policing—and management systems such as CompStat for nearly 30 years.” It is funded by the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, the Arthur N. Nupe Foundation and Randy P. Kendrick - three openly and ardently conservative sources. And she published her book The War On Cops through Encounter Books, a company that “draws its name from Encounter magazine, an Anglo-American literary journal founded in 1953…”
This article is the second in a two-part response to Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke’s public attempts to defame my character personally and professionally in the Huffington Post and on Fox News’s The Kelly File.
Mr. Clarke’s launched these attacks in response to an article I published last month entitled Stop Blue Lives Matter. In this article, I describe efforts by the Fraternal Order of Police to pass legislation that allows cops that kill to do so without consequence, and place additional barriers in the path to victims of brutality seeking justice. In the first part of my response to the officer seeking to label Black Lives Matter as a hate group, I refuted his arguably slanderous and libelous attacks on myself as a person. In this article, I will respond to his attacks on my work as a professional.
Last month, I published an article entitled Stop Blue Lives Matter.
In this article, I outline how the Fraternal Order of Police has been attempting to pass legislation that would add law enforcement officers to the list of communities protected by hate crimes legislation. I describe how police unions were involved in creating contracts and passing legislation that serve as direct obstructions to those seeking justice as a result of police misconduct. I also offer suggestions for how to counter these political efforts writing,
“Police union contracts and Law Enforcement Officers’ Bills of Rights are allowing killer cops to walk free…. We will not stop police brutality until we stop the police unions and the Fraternal Order of Police. The first step is to confront and defeat attempts to pass Law Enforcement Bills of Rights at the federal level and the Blue Lives Matter Act. The next step is to abolish police unions and their contracts all together.”
Conservative mouthpiece Sheriff David Clarke of Milwaukee County – the law enforcement officer known for trying to get Black Lives Matter listed as a hate group– took personal and professional issue with this article and called me out in two national formats.
Earlier this week, Donald Trump met with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Akron, Ohio. With a fresh endorsement from the North Carolina chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, the “law and order” candidate is still awaiting official endorsement from the national organization. While Trump and the nation waits to see if the “largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers” will give the candidate their official support, it is important to remember that whatever the outcome, the FOP has legislation that has made it to Congress, it will likely be voted on in September and all efforts need to be taken to block it.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) describes itself as embodying “more than 330,000 members in more than 2,200 lodges. We are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities.” They have used this voice to organize police unions in municipalities across the country, negotiate police union contracts in these locations, and pass Law Enforcement Officers Bills of Rights (LEOBORs) in 14 states. These contracts and policies are designed to ensure that police that kill and brutalize community members can escape trial, conviction and literally any form of accountability whatsoever for their actions. They function as obstructions to justice that allow killer cops to walk free and force community members to take to the streets to demand reform.
The FOP is also fighting to pass national legislation that would designate police officers as one of the protected communities under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
It’s called the Blue Lives Matter Act. And it is a direct slap in the face to communities struggling against police brutality. Congress will likely review it when they reconvene in September, and it needs to be blocked.
On Saturday August 13, 2016, a 23-year-old named Sylville Smith was gunned down by an unnamed officer from the Milwaukee Police Department. Mr. Smith was a young black man, the father of a two year old son and was described as “a nice, good person. He was really respected.”
Sylville Smith was a young black man that lived in the “most segregated city in America.” He was a brother that was raised in Milwaukee, where more black men are incarcerated than in any other city in the nation. He was a son that was raised in a city where his father had been incarcerated and where he himself had already been targeted and jailed. He was a friend that was raised in a city deeply enmeshed in the struggle between black community members and the police officers that are killing them.
Video Of Paul O’Neal’s Killing Has Been Released. The Police Officers Involved Will Likely Walk Free.
On Friday, August 5 the family of Paul O’Neal filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department and three unnamed officers for the fatal shooting of the 18-year-old recent high school graduate and beloved family member. This suit was brought on the same day that video footage taken from officers’ bodycams was released to the public. The video shows the moments before and after the fatal shooting, but footage of the actual murder itself was not captured. It is still unclear if the killing of the unarmed victim itself was not caught on video because the officer intentionally turned his bodycam off, or because the equipment malfunctioned.
What is known about the incident is that officers were attempting to stop a driver in a reportedly stolen vehicle. There were no reports that the suspect was armed and no evidence suggesting that he was armed when the call came through to officers. Even so, as Paul O’Neal sped by them in the reported vehicle, one of the officers opened fire on him.
Moments later, the suspect collided head-on with a police car that was approaching from the opposite direction. O’Neal exited the vehicle and fled on foot; the officers pursued him through a nearby yard. Five shots were fired at the victim as he tried to run away. One of the shots struck him in the back and killed him.
As the unarmed adolescent lay dying on the ground, one officer says, “Bitch-ass mother――-, f―-ing shoot at us.” Then they began cuffing the unarmed teen. He died soon after from his injuries. The officers involved were placed on desk duty.
At face value, it may seem as if this was a clear case of excessive force and a violation of the civil rights of Paul O’Neal. Michael Oppenheimer, attorney for the O’Neil family, called the incident an “execution.” Others might describe it as a lynching. From the standpoint of logic, it seems like an open and shut case. But as history has proven time and time again, law and logic are two completely different things. Logic would not allow the slayings of Oscar Grant, John T. Williams, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Mario Woods and Tamir Rice go without consequence. Law would.
Officers get away with murder on a routine basis not because the system is broken. It’s not. The system works just fine ― it’s just fixed to work in favor of law enforcement. An average of only 4 out of every 1,000 cases brought against law enforcement officers for murder have been brought to trial. Of these, an average of only one per year secures a conviction. One. And this one per year is usually accompanied by weak consequences.
Logic would not allow the slayings of Oscar Grant, John T. Williams, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Mario Woods and Tamir Rice go without consequence. Law would.
Say their names.
Darren Wilson, Daniel Pantaleo, Ian Birk, Brian Encinia, Brian Rice, Joseph Demarco and Stephen Shannon, Winson Seto, Antonio Santos, Charles August, Nicholas Cuevas and Scott Phillips, Johannes Mehserle, Timothy Loehmann, Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, and Jeronimo Yanez.
Say their names. And say them with putrid anger.
They’re the names of the officers that killed Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John T. Williams, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Kayden Clarke, Mario Woods, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile.
And so far, they’ve all gotten away with it.
And they are not the only ones. There are thousands and thousands more whose names should be said. Thousands and thousands more that each took the life or lives of community members for no reason other than they were black, brown, indigenous, disabled, poor, gay, transgendered, non-Christian or any combination thereof. Thousands and thousands more names to place on the tips of our tongues if nothing is done about it. Or if the wrong things are done about it — again.
This is not the first time in this nation’s history that abuses by law enforcement gained national attention. Law enforcement was originally designed to target minorities and little has been done to change that function since. They’ve been used to enforced slave codes, black laws, poor laws, ugly laws, Jim Crow laws and they still enforce them in their various forms today. It is no mistake that they systematically target minorities. It is no mistake that they use excessive force to do so. And it is no mistake that they get away with it. And it is no mistake that there is resistance to it.