Memo To Lt. Ryan Baltimore Police Union Chief: Breaking The Spines Of Black Folk Isn't "Proper" Policing

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News reports that May was the worst month of violence in 15 years in Baltimore has police unions and apologists pointing to the arrests of six Baltimore Police officers in the Freddie Gray killing as the main culprit for violence.

Somehow these people would have us believe that to fight crime police must be allowed to engage in the wholesale harassment, brutality and criminalization of African-Americans. It's a depraved way of thinking.

We must denounce those who seek to continue the victimization of Black America and who justify it by inculcating irrational racist fears in Whites that African-Americans are menaces to American society.

According to the Associated Press, from January to May, of this year, there have been 32 more homicides in Baltimore during this period than last year. Ever vigilant in finding excuses for the inexcusable behavior of those criminal cops in their midst, police unions are making the claim that the arrests of six officers in connection with the killing of Freddie Gray is the main cause of the spike because cops are, supposedly, “afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs.”

Does that mean every arrest must result in a young Black man having his spine severed? Just think of the macabre logic.

An idiotic claim was made in a Twitter post by FOP —Fraternal Order of Police —Lodge#3 President Lt. Gene Ryan on May 28, stating: “The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest. Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty. Right now they can go to jail for following Supreme Court decisions such as Illinois v. Wardlow. The Baltimore States Attorney’s Office essentially overturned the Supreme Court’s decision. We hope that all leadership will come together to support the police to move the community forward.”

Lt. Ryan’s statement gives us a bird’s eye view into the Blue Wall and how police protect those who are criminal and murderous-minded in their midst.

Officer Ryan talks about officers being “afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly.” What is proper about severing the spine of an unarmed Black man? Moreover one who had committed no crime?

Time and again, all over America, we have seen officers escape facing real justice for killing unarmed Black people—with the help and a wink and nod from judges, prosecutors and politicians. We don’t have enough space here to name all those innocent Blacks who’ve lost their lives at the hands of killer cops who paid no legal consequences whatsoever. In fact, that reality has much to do with why prejudiced police usually never think twice before they commit some atrocity against African-Americans.

Consider the callous manner in which Officer Michael Slager used Walter Scott's back for target practice.

What kind of hallucinogen is Lt. Ryan on when he makes the specious statement that cops are supposedly “under siege in every quarter?”

Within the political arena we now have some half-hearted movement on the issue of police brutality and murders of unarmed Black civilians—and we only have that because of mass protests.

Congress has been largely silent on addressing prejudiced policing against Black people—even in the face of all that has happened in the last year. Think of it, Republicans in Congress have been having all kind of panels about the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi. Where are the panels on police brutality against the Black community?

You know it’s bad when even Black politicians can seem to activate their tongues to talk about institutional racism within the police force. Democratic Congressman Eldridge Cleaver—the most powerful Black politician from Missouri—is a case in point. Congressman Cleaver was very vocal and outraged when two policemen from Ferguson were shot and wounded during a protest and offered a reward to capture those responsible.

Yet, his response to the outrageous actions of Ferguson Police, not just in the killing of Michael Brown, but with the militarized response and the RICO-type corruption of targeting Black people for bogus tickets and fine, were tepid at best.

It may very well be that some Black political “leaders” are the biggest betrayers of Black America’s interests.

Apparently, none of these, supposedly, upstanding political paragons has the backbone to denounce those cops who kill and murder innocent citizens while wearing the badge. Yet, whenever protests against police misconduct arise we hear their sanctimonious speeches and statements about the need to be "non-violent" and to "protest peacefully" even when police in the face of police take every opportunity to beat those same peaceful protesters.

Very often, we get endless lectures about “law and order” and about the “rule of law.” But if one is honest about the true nature of America’s police culture, especially with respect to the historical harassment and repression perpetrated against Black America, these notions become nothing more than empty rhetoric. Is there any question that institutional racism is a serious problem that needs to be addressed within America’s police forces and other government agencies?

Consider for a minute the recently revealed racist e-mail messages that were being sent back and forth by police officers in the Miami Beach Police Department—including a former police captain—and their bigoted buddies. As a consequence of these revelations some 150 cases are now being reviewed where these officers were involved with the arrests of Black people.

This brings to mind the review being done by Brooklyn’s District Attorney Ken Thompson’s of the cases of disgraced former Lt. Louis Scarcella, where several innocent Black men have already been exonerated in that probe. That last week another person was granted a new trial after having served 27 years for a double murder.

We also know that similar racist e-mail messages have been connected to cops in places like: New Jersey, Louisiana, San Francisco and Missouri. Are we willing to believe these are only isolated incidents? Isn’t it time we challenge the fiction that there are only being a few “bad apples” in these police precincts?

Recently, in Chicago, Detective Timothy McDermott was fired when a photo of him and Officer Jerome Finnigan was found where they put deer antlers on a Black man while posing with hunting rifles. The Black man in the photo has not been identified. This photo was apparently only found because FBI were investigating Officer Finnigan for his alleged involvement in a robbery crew.

Detective McDermott explained the photo saying “I made a mistake as a young, impressionable police officer who was trying to fit in.” Now it would be very easy to say this statement is absurd. But perhaps it illustrates that institutional racism is very potent in police departments and very pervasive. After all, what kind of culture was he trying to "fit in" into?

Here are a few tips for Lt. Ryan: instead of making dimwitted excuses for criminal conduct by cops—and erecting a Blue Wall to protect them—maybe you should be focusing on rooting out those who engage in violating Black people’s rights.

Better police officers results in better policing. Protecting criminals, whether they are civilians or in uniform, results in more crimes.

Instead of playing the fear card, he should be weeding out the criminal-minded elements on the force.

Racism in police departments must be put in check. Protests against brutal cops and apologists like Lt. Ryan must continue. We need police leaders willing to become a part of the solution to step forward; not brutality enablers like Lt. Ryan.


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