If their anonymous postings on police forums are any indication, law enforcement officers are deeply unsympathetic to Eric Garner, the 43-year-old man who was choked to death by the New York Police Department last week.
The death of Garner at the hands of the police—who approached him for selling cigarettes, tackled him, and put him in a chokehold that sent him into cardiac arrest and killed him—has provoked an outcry from a city weary of seemingly incessant police brutality. But as New York Magazine notes, many cops are rationalizing the treatment of Garner in online postings.
Though anonymous, these reactions do belong to actual cops, since participation at PoliceOne requires law enforcement identification, according to New York Magazine:
In internet communities for law enforcement, like PoliceOne.com, "the One resource for Law Enforcement online," and Thee Rant, an NYPD message board, the Garner story has stirred up racial, political, and professional tensions, most of them quite ugly. While all of the comments below are anonymous, and therefore not verifiable, both sites do require registration for membership ("No ID card, No Approval!"says Thee Rant). By no means a comprehensive view of law-enforcement feelings about the incident, the postings do provide a different — if beyond upsetting — perspective.
Here is a sampling of the cop comments at PoliceOne:
Anytime a person says "I'm tired of it. It stops today." That will almost always end with the use of force. He made that decision, not the Police. The Police must effect the arrest and rise above any resistance. That resistance or lack of resistance is determined by the suspect. This was a huge man and it appears to me they used minimal force. Sometimes people with pre-existing conditions die when they exert themselves. There are Police Officers that have heart attacks and die every year during physical altercations with subjects. You will not see main stream media featuring those in their headlines. This is nothing more than petty blame shifting and fuel for extremist with an agenda.
"This makes all cops look bad because, as far as the public is concerned, this man was murdered because he sold some cigarettes."
In the first place, if it turns out that the force used by the officers was legal and within departmental policy, it doesn't make ANY other cop look bad. If the public isn't willing to accept the fact that the officers did nothing wrong, they can go to hell. I could care less how the public perceives us when we're in the right and if YOU were any kind of law enforcement professional, you would understand that officer safety is FAR more important than public perception.
Again if Mr walking heart attack had simply put his hamburger shovels behind his back, he wouldn't have had a heartbattackmfor over exerting himself. The NYPD did absolutely nothing wron. Tomthe guys slamming these NYPD officekrs, I and many here wouldn't want any of you guys around us on a critical,incident. Hopefully you guys are desk jockeys.
As former Reason editor Mike Riggs noted on Twitter, "Go to any online forum that serves police officers, find the Eric Garner story, and read the comments. Those are your police, America."
Online commenters are not necessarily representative of an entire group of civil servants, of course. But the people who wrote those things work in law enforcement somewhere—and they bring their ugly perspective on police brutality with them to the job.