This week, the New York Police Department’s Sergeant Benevolent Association released a video titled “Blue Racism.” The video has received widespread attention for its theme and the group’s decision to use the word racism to identify the discrimination and stereotyping of police officers.
While I think the word racism may not be the best term to use, it got the attention of a lot of people. The video is being discussed on social media, talk radio and cable news channels.
But it brings up the very real issue: Are police officers discriminated against? Are they vilified? Are they subject to abuse? Are they targeted for violence? Are they subject to collective stereotyping?
The answer to all the above is yes.
According to Wikipedia: “Discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person based on the group, class, or category to which the person is perceived to belong rather than on individual attributes.”
I agree wholeheartedly police officers are not a separate race. Police officers are more diverse than ever and represent every race. But what word is adequate to describe the vilification of law enforcement officers simply for the uniform they wear?
We’ve seen tragic murders over the last few years where police officers have been targeted for assassination simply because some deranged individual hated cops. Oftentimes their hate was fed by social media hyperbole. And yes, they really do hate cops.
The calls for violence against police officers is not unusual. Remember the widely broadcast chanting through the streets of New York during a demonstration, “What do we want? Dead cops! When do want it? Now!
There even are hashtags throughout social media calling for the killing of police officer and overall denigration of police officers.
Any reasonable person would agree you shouldn’t vilify an entire group based upon the behavior of just a few. That just doesn’t make sense, does it?
There have been what seems to be hundreds of instances of police officers being denied service in businesses simply because they were wearing a uniform. Not for what they did, but for who they are.
If you remember earlier this month, there was a nationwide story out of Atlanta where a gym owner posted a sign barring police officers and military members from his facility.
Sunday I was at a demonstration where hundreds of police officers were deployed to keep two groups separated and safe. The officers were protecting their First Amendment rights. Nevertheless, based upon some of the chants, the police were automatically a target.
I’ve known thousands of police officers in my lifetime. Overwhelmingly, they have been outstanding individuals. They are great neighbors, active in their communities, involved in their churches and coaching youth sports.
The few rare exceptions are not the norm for the nearly 1 million law enforcement officers in the United States today. Yet ask any police officer’s family member how they have been impacted by the ongoing rhetoric against the police.
The NYPD Sergeant Benevolent Association found a way to bring attention to the issue of police vilification. Can you blame them? In just the past few years, a number of their members have been attacked and killed by cop haters.
Maybe what we need is a better word?
Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at email@example.com.