2014 was a pivotal year for exposing police brutality and the disproportionate toll it takes on minorities. The mainstream media was forced to pay attention as high-profile cases of police killings were thrust into the public arena, beginning with the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri which led to historic riots and violent police crackdowns.
We witnessed the outrageous chokehold death of Eric Garner, whose “crime” was selling loose cigarettes, by a New York City cop. Women such as Tanisha Anderson were also dying at the hands of police in 2014 under wrongful circumstances.
As The Free Thought Project and other media were pushing awareness of these deaths carried out by badge-wearing murderers with Blue Privilege, the unchecked brutality continued in 2015.
Bystander video showed a North Charleston cop casually take out his pistol and shoot Walter Scott in the back numerous times as he ran away following a traffic stop. Baltimore cops were implicated in the death of Freddie Gray, who died from a severe spinal injury while riding in a van in police custody.
Just last week, we were shocked to learn that the Cleveland cop who gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice for holding a toy gun would not be indicted. This “catastrophic and pernicious miscarriage of justice” is stirring the nation into outrage.
We have covered countless other police murders, most of which go unpunished because cops have a special Bill of Rights, and simply uttering “I feared for my life” grants them exceptions to the law. It doesn’t matter if the cop put himself in such a position through “officer-created jeopardy.”
Chicago became the center of attention when dashcam video showed Officer Jason van Dyke ruthlessly murder Laquan McDonald, who posed no threat and was walking away. Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into McDonald, mostly as he lay dying on the ground.
McDonald’s murder highlights a monumental roadblock in the effort to reform police tactics to reduce these unjust murders. At every instance of obvious police misconduct, brutality and killings, police unions have been there to say that the cops did everything right. They use tortured logic and even fabricate stories to defend the defenseless.
For example, before the McDonald dashcam video was released, the police union claimed that McDonald lunged at officers. But the video clearly shows this to be a lie. Facts don’t matter to the union, though, as they steadfastly defend Van Dyke’s actions even though he has been charged with murder.
The reprehensible tactics of police unions don’t stop with telling lies to cover the actions of individual cops. They systematically engage in creating false narratives to block police accountability, and attempt to destroy the credibility of anyone within the police force who tries to initiate reform.
In early 2015, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay decided to tackle the problem of disproportionate policing in his city. McLay joined protesters in the streets and was pictured holding a sign saying, “I RESOLVE TO CHALLENGE RACISM @ WORK #END WHITE SILENCE.” He immediately became a target.
“The police union went crazy in denouncing [McLay],” said law professor and policing expert David A. Harris. “They tried to make [McLay] the most hated police chief in America for the heinous crime of saying that he was against racism.”
McLay was only one front in the war that police unions had declared on police accountability. Throughout the year, any law enforcement official who engages in honest dialogue became the victim of character assassination.
When Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts used newer methods in dealing with protests after Freddie Gray’s death, avoiding the traditional use of provocative military tactics and equipment, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) condemned Batts. They lambasted his desire to “establish a culture of transparency and accountability in order to build public trust and legitimacy,” as recommended by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Batts was fired, becoming the fall guy after the FOP leveled criticism against Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for inviting a federal investigation into the Baltimore PD.
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While police unions targeted good cops, they successfully created false narratives that undermined the reform movement. Their most effective lie may have been “The Ferguson Effect,” which claimed that the Ferguson riots were making police more reluctant to make arrest for fear of being filmed, thus making blacks more likely to commit crimes.
This notion has been thoroughly debunked, so much so that the Milwaukee Police Department has specifically rejected the myth. But that didn’t stop police apologists and even FBI Director James Comey from parroting the phrase.
A few cities have experienced a rise in violent crime, but the trends had begun before Ferguson ever happened. This brings us to another false narrative perpetrated by police unions in 2015—the non-existent rise in crime.
As Radley Balko at the Washington Post points out, academic studies and a logical review of the numbers show that crime in the U.S. is at an all-time low. The overall crime rate has continued a steady decline for decades. Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration issued a statement on how the false crime rate hype impedes reform.
Perhaps the most sensational false narrative pushed by police unions, along with MSM co-conspirators such as Fox News, is the infamous “War on Cops.”
The Free Thought Project began reporting September 2 on this falsehood being spread to distract attention from the epidemic of police brutality and murder.
Police killings have decreased over the past three decades, and 2015 is on track to be lower than last year and lower than the current decadal average.
Sheriff David Clarke was the most theatrical in pushing the “war on cops” meme, and is now proven to be a peddler of lies. The “fair and balanced” infotainment channel where Clarke paraded about has most likely not apologized for its severe lack of responsibility.
We also pointed out that “the highest number of police killed in the line of duty – 300 – occurred in 1930 at the height of prohibition. Also, police fatalities ramped up to 200 the same year that Nixon declared the War on Drugs.” The implications of this statistic are obvious.
Even assaults on police have steadily declined, which shows that people are not even interested as much in hurting police. As it turns out, 2015 was one of the safest years in history for police.
Facts don’t matter to police unions, though. Their political power makes up for their lack of reason. The culture of fascism is exemplified by statements from Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Pasco said that it should be illegal for citizens to record police with cameras, and it should be punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
While writing this article, news erupted that the president of Miami’s police union tweeted a sick message in the abandonment of all decency, mocking the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice playing with a toy gun at a park.
Lt. Javier Ortiz said, “Act like a thug and you'll be treated like one."
Such moral depravity characterizes the culture of police unions, along with the denial of facts and the absence of reasoning. These are the forces that helped to stifle reforms to police accountability in 2015.
Let’s do all we can to counter that force in 2016 with informed dissent and peaceful resistance to the abuses of state power. Keep filming cops so we can continue the push for accountability and continue exposing the lies of police unions.