In what seems to be a daily occurrence now, a new video was posted to social media showing members of the NYPD brutally beating young Black men under what appeared to be the false pretense of violations of New York City’s coronavirus social distancing guidelines. But while city leaders search for a way to curb the police brutality, they might want to look at NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, who has his own history of racial profiling that may be inspiring his ranks to disproportionately target Black and brown people.
He has defended his officers caught on video terrorizing the same Black communities that are being hit hard by the coronavirus, likely prompting his officers to follow his lead.
The latest video was filmed in Brooklyn caught some plainclothed members of the NYPD arresting people for violating the social distancing guidelines. As if the disparity behind the optics of who the NYPD targets for such violations wasn’t damning enough, these officers, in particular, were shown on video threatening people if they didn’t back up.
Only as the people backed up, the officers would advance and keep telling them to back up. In other words, it was actually the cops who were willingly violating the social distancing guidelines and not the young Black men who the NYPD clearly targeted. In the end, the video shows multiple police officers throwing and connecting multiple punches to the faces of these men who were only guilty of a nonviolent civil violation, at best.
Watch the newest video below. Please be warned that explicit language is used.
There’s an apparent reason why there has not been one single viral video of the NYPD beating a non-Black person during the coronavirus crisis — Commissioner Shea, whose record shows a distinct history of championing racial profiling against Black and brown New Yorkers. No, racial profiling is not a new NYPD phenomenon by any means, but its frequency amid the coronavirus pandemic is hard to ignore.
It was only a year ago when the New York Daily News reported that Shea, as the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives, guided his staff to profile “360 black and Hispanic men” and blindly swab each of them in a desperate attempt to match DNA in a rape case that ended with the controversial conviction of a Black man who has maintained his innocence.
The Daily News wrote in part at the time that “The men who were swabbed were selected because they had been previously arrested in Howard Beach, sources said. A number of them told The News in interviews that they were upset by their treatment at the hands of investigators.”
When the City Council had Shea testify about how he had his detectives racially profiling “Black and Hispanic men,” he didn’t have much to say.
Shea was asked if his detectives “engage in DNA dragnets where they sweep up a bunch of people based on their race in order to take their DNA?” He simply replied, “No,” and refused to expound beyond that.
Undeterred, Donovan Richards, co-chairman of the council’s public safety committee, asked Shea if targeting people’s DNA based on race is illegal.
“As I’ve said, we do not participate in dragnets,” Shea responded with a cagey answer before going on to defend what sure sounded like racial profiling.
“We are not randomly collecting people’s DNA,” Shea said at the time. “If we did there would be a database of millions and millions of people. I am very comfortable with where we are given the size, the small number and that it is uniquely tied to crimes.”
Is it a coincidence these new instances of apparent racial profiling are popping up seemingly nonstop?
The newest video comes on the heels of others within the last week, including one showing an officer beating a helpless man whose only apparent crime was filming the cop’s colleague beating up another man.
That was followed by another in Brooklyn showing cops pummeling a helpless man on the ground.
And then yet another one — this time in the Bronx — showing NYPD cops resorting to pepper-spraying teenagers.
This is America.