Off duty, black cops in New York feel threat from fellow police
NEW YORK (Reuters) - From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life. Garner, a 43-year-old black man suspected of illegally peddling loose cigarettes, died in July after a white officer put him in a chokehold. His death, and that of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has sparked a slew of nationwide protests against police tactics. On Saturday, those tensions escalated after a black gunman, who wrote of avenging the black deaths on social media, shot dead two New York policemen.
The protests and the ambush of the uniformed officers pose a major challenge for New York Mayor Bill De Blasio. The mayor must try to ease damaged relations with a police force that feels he hasn’t fully supported them, while at the same time bridging a chasm with communities who say the police unfairly target them.
What’s emerging now is that, within the thin blue line of the NYPD, there is another divide - between black and white officers.
Reuters interviewed 25 African American male officers on the NYPD, 15 of whom are retired and 10 of whom are still serving. All but one said that, when off duty and out of uniform, they had been victims of racial profiling, which refers to using race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed a crime.
The officers said this included being pulled over for no reason, having their heads slammed against their cars, getting guns brandished in their faces, being thrown into prison vans and experiencing stop and frisks while shopping. The majority of the officers said they had been pulled over multiple times while driving. Five had had guns pulled on them.