A shameful demonstration during the funeral of Rafael Ramos, one of the NYPD who were killed last week. Some comments follow..
If the police want to protest, when they are off-duty and out of uniform, I say go for it. This is America, where everyone is entitled to speak their minds.
However, when they are in uniform, and carrying a badge and a gun, they are not entitled to speak as individuals. They are members of the NYPD, and they must respect the chain of command, which includes the elected leader of the city, the mayor.
There are good reasons for this. When you depend on the police to keep the peace, you want to know that they will protect everyone equally, without regard for their political opinion. If I were to be arrested and I was wearing a button that said "God bless Mayor De Blasio" or "The police are assholes," both of which are protected speech, how confident could I be that the police would treat me the same as someone wearing buttons more sympathetic to their cause.
What about cops that are assigned to protect the mayor? Have they said if and when they will turn their backs on the mayor if someone tries to harm him?
If it were allowed to persist, then I would want my own police force to protect me from the ones who have political opinions different from my own. I believe it used to be this way before we decided it would be better to have one apolitical police force.
All this because the people we employ as police couldn't be professional in a time of great emotion. Maybe they did it impulsively. Maybe they'll come to their senses.
Not that it matters, but what exactly did the mayor do or say to so upset them? Perhaps he empathized with citizens who feared that NYPD wasn't up to the job, or worse, they simply murder citizens and expect impunity. The latter is what it looks like to me. The video of Eric Garner's death recorded a murder. His death was ruled a homicide by the coroner. This was worse than the murder of the two police officers, because it was done in the name of justice, and because there is no penalty for the murderers, so no disincentive to do it again. Garner was unarmed, and no threat to anyone.
There will be more marches in the city. There was a hiatus, possibly out of respect for the grieving police (the mayor did ask that there be no demonstrations) or perhaps it was the Christmas holiday. But especially since the police made such a clear political statement at the funeral of Ramos, and because they outrageously blame the demonstrators for the deaths of the officers there are certain to be marches to emphasize that police killing citizens without recourse is still unacceptable.
Who will police those marches? Will any of the police be cops who turned their back on the mayor? We're supposed to trust them? What if they decide to have a political demo of their own while the citizens are marching? What then? We live in a police state as long as the police feel they can try to control political expression. Perhaps we always have lived in a police state in NYC, but now it's become evident because we have better communication tools. Whatever it is, if the police thought through the consequences of their disrespect for the mayor, then they are playing a very ugly and dangerous game with our freedom and our lives.