Cease and Desist
What happens when the police stop policing? Do we, like unsupervised children, start to gleefully wreak havoc? Take New York, for instance–does it pretty much become “The Warriors?” After two officers were killed in late December — apparently in vengeance for Eric Garner’s death — New York saw a virtual work stoppage. Everything was unofficial, and union leaders denied any organization (police strikes are, after all, illegal), but the NYPD made 66 percent fewer arrests than they had the same time last year. Criminal summonses and traffic citations went down 90 percent. There was even a memo that circulated among officers — first said to be penned by the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, which later denied authorship — that instructed them to, for their safety, not make any arrests unless they were absolutely necessary. Which led Matt Ford at The Atlantic to ask: How many unnecessary arrests was the NYPD making before? And, as New York Magazine pointed out, nothing really happened. It turns out, making fewer arrests — that is, less policing — doesn’t mean that the world spirals into unmitigated chaos. The Associated Press even mentioned that reports of serious crimes went down from 4,130 to 3,707 in the same period last year. One week is a small sample size. But then again, only two months later the city experienced its longest number of consecutive days without a murder. So the police stopped doing their jobs. On one hand, they let drunk drivers and people who illegally possessed guns slide. On the other, there was a marked decrease in arrests for small crimes — the ones that, according to Police Commissioner William J. Bratton’s philosophy of “broken-window” policing, must be rooted out to discourage larger-scale problems. And the city did not go up in flames. These arrests actually often target low-income people of color who do not have the means to pay bail, creating a heavily policed and jailed lower class. So this begs the question: Are “police” and “safety” at all the same thing?
By Samantha Schuyler
Guilt by Association
From cries of hate speech following the Charlie Hebdo massacre to the murder of three Muslim Chapel Hill students, Islamophobia has been a point of serious discussion over the course of the past few months. But according to The Atlantic, the French prime minister refused to even utter the very word Islamophobia when describing the phenomenon that is anti-Muslim prejudice following the Charlie Hebdo incident. Guilt by association is not only damaging, but further marginalizes individuals who choose to practice the Muslim faith. Despite rallying cries from the Muslim community, mainstream media outlets took almost an entire day before making an active effort to report on the death of the Chapel Hill students. The New York Times made it clear that prosecutions based on hate crime are a rarity in North Carolina, where the incident occurred. In the wake of post-9/11 anti-Muslim prejudice, the increase in hate crimes targeting innocent Muslims is a measurable reality. Reports by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights showed that while the number of reported hate crimes against Muslims has declined since 2001, it is still substantially above pre-2001 levels. Even with statistics backing claims of targeted hate crime, the Muslim community continues to be vilified under the guise of protecting the sanctity of liberty. Should the freedom of speech be given priority over the very livelihood of a community that suffers as a direct result of ignorance?
By Damian Gonzalez