I can’t seem to erase the conjured images of New York City Police Department officers, savagely beating patrons outside Tammany Hall from my psyche. I didn’t witness it personally, but the bit of video footage caught on camera was enough to fill me with rage.
The riot that occurred on Tuesday, June 28, in which chaos ensued between officers and a crowd from hip-hop producer Pete Rock, and rappers Tek & Steele’s (of Smif N Wessun) concert in Manhattan was nothing short of appalling.
That evening, the Hip-Hop stars were supposed to celebrate their collaborative album “Monumental,” but instead it turned into a night of melee. According to them and witnesses, a minor argument ensued and was rapidly diffused. Thirty minutes later NYPD officers arrived on the scene to shut down the event. Details thereafter are unclear, however, witnesses stated that police began to assault and spray people with mace.
From there all mayhem broke loose.
From a video provided on the Internet, officers used excessive force. The tension and menacing displayed was deplorable on all levels. From what I gathered, those fans and supporters were not there to fight anyone, let alone with the police. In fact, I did not see one single person lend a hand on an officer. What I did see were cops (White, I may add) using intimidation — but for what? I am uncertain.
Indeed, the street was filled with numerous bystanders, many of whom the cops were probably trying to disperse. However, I can imagine many of those people did not clear the street because they, too, were dismayed and appalled by the cops’ display of unprofessionalism. I imagine many of them were angered their night was ruined; a night that was intended to be celebratory and fun. All considered, I wouldn’t leave either.
By no means do I entirely rule out any possibility of wrongdoing on behalf of the crowd, however based on corroborating accounts from witnesses and the video, I would say it is unlikely. This incident like so many others highlights a high-priority issue in NYC: unjust police brutality. Whether physical or psychological intimidation, NYPD officers have an extensive track record of unjustly using their “authority” to exercise corrupt behavior.
That night was clearly enacted based off one thing: prejudice. Not in the sense of hate, but in the sense that those cops entered an event belonging to a culture that had been vilified for decades. Those cops acted on prejudice in the sense that they had preconceived notions of the type of crowd they were, based on the fact that it was a Hip-Hop concert. Whether those fans were Black, white or anything in between, they were perceived as an uniformed, violent subculture and because of it they were treated as such.
Why on earth would 15-20 officers respond to an incident that was resolved thirty minutes prior? And assuming they saw no visible sign of an altercation, which I’m sure was the case, what was the rationale of shutting the event down? Sometimes officers use their authority for the wrong reasons. Rather than officiating as servers and protectors of the community, they cast themselves in villainous roles, unjustly attacking the ones they should be safeguarding.
Police should never question why there is so much friction between the department and the community, because it’s clear the man in blue is the true issue at hand.
How can citizens not look at cops with preconceptions, if officers wrongly judge them each and everyday? Furthermore, how can cops be respected if they don’t respect the people they’re supposed to be protecting? That video clearly illustrates the police department’s lack of respect, and the reports that they assaulted women as well, only further drives my point.
Ironically on that same day 42 years ago, another riot ensued no more than 10 minutes away at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where police unjustly raided a gay bar. In 2011, nothing much has changed. Corrupt police still exist. That night at Tammany Hall, everyone posed as a symbolism of everything bad: Black, Hip-Hop, gay, you name it. Cops were prejudice 42 years ago and they’re prejudice today.
I guess that’s the way the cookie crumbles.