The death of Eric Garner from a choke hold imposed by New York police has been ruled a homicide. The police have arrested the man who caught them in the act and made a video of it. The controversy has become a major issue in the bare knuckle world of New York politics. The Police Officers Benevolent Association seems to feel that they are entitled to the mayor's unequivocal support. They aren't getting it.
Police have become increasingly at odds with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the appearance that he is taking sides against them after the chokehold death of a black suspect last month – a conflict that has prompted the city’s top law enforcement official to do damage control by calling the mayor “very pro-cop”.The police would have you believe that they found it necessary to subdue Garner by force in order to protect the public safety. The threat that he posed was the selling of individual cigarettes. Truly a heinous crime. The New York police have a long history of charges of police brutality and racial profiling. Their number one public enemy is the use of smartphones to record their activities for public review.
What angered many was a recent forum in which the Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the biggest critics of the New York police department, was seated alongside the mayor, a liberal Democrat, and the police commissioner as he lambasted law enforcement and suggested the mayor’s mixed-race son would be a “candidate for a chokehold” if he were an ordinary New Yorker. The image was seized on by critics of the administration and plastered on the cover of the New York Post with the headline “Who’s the Boss!”
“It is outrageously insulting to all police officers to say that we go out on our streets to choke all people of colour as Al Sharpton stated while seated at the table right next to our mayor at City Hall,” said Patrick Lynch, head of the powerful Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Another union official, Ed Mullins of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, hinted at a work slowdown at the nation’s largest police department.
Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani even weighed in, saying in a radio interview that De Blasio made a “big mistake … setting up a press conference like that and putting a police commissioner in that situation. That’s extremely damaging to the police commissioner, to keep up the morale of the police.”
In recent days, emails have circulated among police officers showing a mock identification card with a picture of Sharpton and the title “Police Commissioner.” The activist has shot back by claiming he has the ear of federal officials who have the authority to bring civil rights charges in connection with the death of Eric Garner.
“It is time to have a mature conversation about policing rather than immature name calling and childish attempts to scapegoat,” Sharpton said in a statement
The furor set off by Sharpton's comment about De Blasio's son is reminiscent of the uproar that followed President Obama's observation that Trayvon Martin could have been his son.