Saturday, September 12, 2015

NYPD Assaults James Blake

As you may have heard former tennis star James Blake was wrongly detained by the NYPD when he was mistaken for a suspect in an identity theft ring. That in and of itself is not a big issue. Police and witnesses make mistakes all the time. No the big problem was that rather than being questioned first and THEN detained or arrested by a uniformed or otherwise identifiable NYPD police officer (which could have cleared up any misunderstanding immediately) James Blake was rushed by undercover police officer James Frascatore, grabbed by the neck, assaulted and forced to the ground. The officer did not identify himself. I'm not aware of the exact particulars of self-defense laws in NYC but presumably if strange men assault you in public you do have the right to defend yourself. If Blake had tried to defend himself of course the officer would have shot him and felt piously justified in doing so. Plenty of people, some with good intentions, many more with bad ones, give advice to black men on how to avoid unnecessary confrontations with police. Some of that advice is worthwhile. Most of it is utterly worthless. Here we have Blake literally minding his own business in Gotham before being assaulted by a public servant (who apparently has a track record of violent and abusive policing). There is nothing that Blake should or could have done differently to minimize his chances of being attacked. He was a black man and that was sufficient. Of course it's not just race. It's also class. Can you imagine anyone accusing a Caucasian American business owner or lawyer or other perceived/actual paid up member of the 1% of a non-violent crime and having the police execute a violent takedown? Of course not. Heck, even Mafia bosses with platoons of killers on call don't get treated like James Blake was treated. To add insult to injury the person who police thought was the initial suspect wasn't involved in the alleged crime of identity theft. The NYPD commissioner issued a mush mouthed apology but the union is defending Officer Frascatore. Just another day in the US. It is surreal. Once again, I must admit that Cliven Bundy and his supporters weren't wrong about everything. If the people tasked to enforce the law routinely brutalize people under protection of the law, what recourse does a citizen have?

James Blake Statement:

Just before noon on Wednesday, September 9, 2015, while I was standing on a sidewalk outside my hotel in midtown Manhattan waiting for a car to take me to the U.S. Open, a plainclothes New York City Police officer tackled me to the ground, handcuffed me, paraded me down a crowded sidewalk, and detained me for ten minutes before he and his four colleagues realized they had the wrong man.

The officer, who was apparently investigating a case of credit card fraud, did not identify himself as a member of law enforcement, ask my name, read me my rights, or in any way afford me the dignity and respect due every person who walks the streets of this country. And while I continue to believe the vast majority of our police officers are dedicated public servants who conduct themselves appropriately, I know that what happened to me is not uncommon. 

When this incident was reported in the news media, Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton both called me to extend their personal apologies, and I greatly appreciate those gestures. But extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough.As I told the Commissioner, I am determined to use my voice to turn this unfortunate incident into a catalyst for change in the relationship between the police and the public they serve. For that reason, I am calling upon the City of New York to make a significant financial commitment to improving that relationship, particularly in those neighborhoods where incidents of the type I experienced occur all too frequently. The Commissioner has agreed to meet with my representatives and me to discuss our ideas in that regard, and we very much look forward to that meeting.

Frascatore's History
blog comments powered by Disqus