A Reply to the Open Letter of Dec. 23 from Bay Area Police Officers’ Associations
From the Occupy Oakland Demilitarize the Police Working Group
The ”Open Letter to the Residents of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland” calls for a “constructive dialogue” to “keep our streets safe”, but the members of the Occupy Oakland Demilitarize the Police Working Group see denial and self-righteousness in the letter that would poison such a dialogue. Before any respectful exchange of views on what is to be done to alleviate the outrage caused by police murders, spokespersons for law enforcement officers must acknowledge their sense of unbridled privilege, repudiate it and recognize that violent racism goes unchecked in their ranks.
While we acknowledge that the murder of two NYPD officers is a tragedy, we can find no rational justification to call for national mourning when the systems of law enforcement and justice show no remorse for the murder of many hundreds of men of color. Instead, we see this as a claim that police officers are due greater respect and honor than their innocent victims.
The endless chorus repeated by spokespersons that every police officer must “make it home to his or her family after every shift” is provoking when they show such a lack of concern for the lives of men of color. Tamil Rice never made it home to his family, nor did Oscar Grant.
When young men of color are killed by police at a rate that exceeds twenty-one times that of young white men – that is violent racism. When two unstable white people kill two Las Vegas police officers without the police trying to create a national crisis, while when two New York Police officers are killed by an unstable black man they do – that is violent racism. When a white woman pointing a gun at police officers is disarmed and a black man holding an air-rifle in an open-carry state is gunned down inside a store that carries those firearms – again, that is violent racism.
The “Open Letter” states that a consequence of the murder of police officers in New York City and Tarpon Springs, FL may be to nullify the mission of law enforcement to protect the First Amendment rights of protesters. Other than in police officers’ minds, since when is the US Constitution trumped by a declaration of union officials? The fact is that Brinsley and Parilla both had long criminal records including multiple felony convictions, indicating that they were deeply troubled individuals and not in any way representative of the tens of thousands of protesters who continue to call for justice.
Patrick Lynch, President of the NYC Patrolmen’s Benevolent Assn. instructed his members to impose a martial law-type policing regime in that city. How can such a statement be seen as anything other than an attempt to seize executive power by force? Why has Mr. Lynch not been arrested for inciting a putsch?
When the New York Times finds it necessary to opine that police believe they are
“…accountable only to themselves, and whose reflexive defiance in the face of valid criticism is somehow normal.”
and chastise them for it, we see further evidence of what we have known for some time: that the police no longer protect and serve anyone but themselves, and that the oath they take to defend the Constitution of the United States holds no meaning for them.
The fact that Brinsley and Parilla killed three policemen doesn’t mean the protest movement #BlackLivesMatter has devolved into anything other than what it was when it started on November 24: a demand for accountability for police officers and an end to racist policing.
We see a criminal code being violated by law enforcement: one which defines genocide as the destruction in whole or in part of any social group. Before a constructive dialogue begins police must accept that they are not above the US Constitution or the law, that they are in fact accountable to the people, and that the very long list of men of color murdered by police officers constitutes a pattern of extermination characterized by racism.
– Mike Wilson et al, firstname.lastname@example.org