2000-06-17 / Columnists

From The G-Man...by Gary Toms

From The G-Man

Blue Wall Of Shame

Hey people! I’m sure that many of you know this was not a good week for the NYPD, and as I often state, the good cops out there are paying the price. Just when things start to die down for them, in terms of intense media scrutiny and ridicule, three incidents crop up that threaten to crush the morale and spirit of many outstanding officers.

In one incident, another police officer has admitted lying to the grand jury for his role in the Abner Louima case. He confessed that he was under intense pressure, from his superiors, to fabricate about the events of that horrific night. Patrick Lynch, head of the PBA, was quick to jump in front of news cameras a few months ago stating, "I am confident that the truth will come out, and that this officer will be vindicated." I wonder how Lynch is feeling now?

Then, there were the allegations that officers did absolutely nothing when women complained about being sexually abused, in Central Park, by a bunch of guys. To their credit, the mayor and police commissioner have taken the position that these actions are unacceptable, and they intend to find all of the officers responsible for such behavior.

The incident that I considered to be the most damaging to the NYPD involved music superstar Bruce Springsteen. Do you remember when I made the statement, a few columns ago, a fish rots from the head down? Well, it certainly applies now. The position taken by the top brass of the NYPD has created this storm of controversy, and they have no one to blame but themselves for all of the negative press within the last week.

In an attempted show of support for their officers, the president of the PBA, and an official from the Fraternal Order of Police, spewed derogatory and vicious comments about Springsteen. One calling him a "dirtbag" and another calling him a "floating fag"! Let me tell you something folks. They have a right to denounce "The Boss" for the song "American Skin". It’s their constitutional right, and he has just as much right to sing it. However, there is a point that you don’t go beyond. If the song upsets you, okay, do your thing and protest, boycott or serenade him with a chorus of boos. As major representatives of the NYPD, this state and this country, the one thing you should not be doing is calling the man a "dirtbag" or a "faggot"!

It was my belief, along with many others, that you serve under the principles of courtesy, professionalism and respect. Do you seriously think, based on your comments, with the whole world watching, that people will believe this to be the case? Give me one good reason why masses of people should not feel that the NYPD is not biased against certain groups after this fiasco!

I’ll take it to the next level by saying this. Many people have a problem with the Rev. Al Sharpton because they claim he has made derogatory statements about certain groups. That may be true, or it may a total fabrication, but like it or not, there is one major difference between Sharpton saying such things and the NYPD saying them. Sharpton can say them, and he can get everyone all riled up, but after a while, no one pays that man any mind, and things go back to the way they were, within the different communities, until another racial issue is thrust to the forefront. When a PBA president "profiles" a person as a "dirtbag", and another official calls someone a "faggot", we’re talking about people who carry guns and used to patrol communities! If this is their mindset now, as leaders, Lord knows what their positions were when they were on the streets! C’mon people, it’s time to get real here!

When are NYPD officials going to realize that actions like these are causing certain people to fear their officers. If this is coming from the top, some people feel that it’s reflective of the entire force. That may be an incorrect assessment, but who put it out there?

Oh, while we’re on the subject, let me also state that it doesn’t help when NYPD officials say that Springsteen is attempting to open old wounds with the song, that the trial is over and people need to move on. Guys, the trial is over for you! The verdict lives, and it will remain, in the hearts and minds of not just African-Americans, but those who have a fear and distrust of police. This is what you must come to understand, if you ever want to gain the trust of minorities and others that fear you. Stop being so damn arrogant and callous, for God’s sake!

I’m having a really hard time with this attack on "The Boss". Here is a man who played benefit concerts for the widows of slain police officers, and because he practices a constitutional right, awarded to all, he’s called names.

I don’t see Lynch calling for boycotts when rappers appear at "The Garden", and they rap about widespread corruption in the NYPD or the killing of Amadou Diallo. I guess that’s okay because it’s just a bunch of Black people blowing off steam, but when a major white celebrity "brings it" to the white masses, they can’t have that! He might raise a level of consciousness.

Personally, I’m glad he did it, and I’m glad he met with Diallo’s parents.

Any intelligent person, with a sense of history, knows he did the right thing. It’s so funny to me because some of the people, who are angry with Bruce Springsteen, are the same people who supported artists like Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin when they sang songs denouncing the Vietnam War back in the 60’s! It makes no sense.

The NYPD is making this an issue, and the only thing that’s going to happen is more artists are going to record more songs. What will Lynch do then? Is he going to boycott every artist, or group, who might record a tribute to Diallo? If they had taken a more subtle tone, this probably would have gotten a marginal response at best. Instead, they fed the "media beast" and fanned the flames of controversy.

These people are called artists for a reason. If you are a director, writer, actor or musician, the tragedies of the human condition will find their way into your work somehow. That’s been the case for years, and people know this from as far as Tibet to the streets of "Philadelphia".

You can "bring it" to me at

Mapel2000@aol.com. See you next week!

 


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