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Activists react to Bratton’s ‘offensive’ comments

Stephon Johnson | 5/28/2015, 9:30 a.m.
New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton used a recent event to remind the public that they’re just as responsible ...
NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton

Amsterdam News Staff

New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton used a recent event to remind the public that they’re just as responsible for the current situation between them and cops.

While sitting on the panel of a forum in Manhattan called “New York Ideas,” Bratton said parents need to teach their kids how to behave around the police. “The challenge for us, the police, is to do it [the job] constitutionally ... to do it respectfully, to do it compassionately and ... to do it in a way that we are not seen as biased towards any of the groups we police,” said Bratton at the forum, which was moderated by Atlantic editor James Bennet. “I will control my cops, you control your kids—this is a shared responsibility,” Bratton said emphatically, drawing applause. “So don’t be complaining to me if you can’t take care of your kids at home. It is a shared responsibility.” The commissioner also said that it’s difficult for police to do their job when camera phones are in their face, adding, “That is what we’re up against. There are so many cop haters out there.”

Bratton’s statements drew the ire of law enforcement activists and politicians, who were quick to call them prejudiced and offensive to families of victims of police violence.

“It’s difficult to not perceive his comments as racially coded, given their similarities to Fox News commentators and disrespectful, racist conservatives,” said Veronica Bayett Flores of Communities United for Police Reform in a statement. “The fact is that Police Commissioner Bratton has taken no substantive action to address the lack of accountability for police brutality and a policing culture that perpetuates discriminatory policing of communities. New Yorkers observe and document police interactions to protect their communities from police abuse and brutality—something that Commissioner Bratton and elected officials have failed to do.”

Not one to be left out of the conversation, Justice Committee Co-Director Lvoyda Colon said in a statement that Bratton’s comments were offensive.

“On a daily basis, our members and constituents—who live in low-income Latino/a communities and other communities of color—experience unjust stops, searches and arrests, harassment and brutality at the hands of Bratton’s NYPD officers,” said Colon. “In the worse cases, these interactions escalate to fatal levels, depriving families of loved ones and communities of contributors. These experiences lead many to equate the NYPD with greater danger, rather than greater safety.”

The AmNews spoke with New York Assemblyman Charles Barron about Bratton. Barron felt the commissioner’s words not only reflected on him but also reflected on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Bill de Blasio should be ashamed of himself for bringing [Bratton] into our city,” Barron told the AmNews. “He’s out of touch. He should leave and take his broken window theories with him.” Barron also labeled Bratton a racist, one who “always has been” since the Rudolph Giuliani administration and who feels all Black New Yorkers should be stopped and frisked.

“Every drop of blood that Bratton’s police have caused in our community—Akai Gurley, Eric Garner—is on the hands of de Blasio and Bratton,” said Barron. “You cannot call yourself a progressive and bring such a regressive, racist commissioner to our community.”