I doubt we are ever really going to get an accurate read on Ms. Bland’s death, but the video is enough for me: this is not how American police should act. At worst, it’s murder and a cover up. At best, if she was, indeed, mentally ill enough to take her own life, then the last thing she needed was the despicable treatment she received from that officer. I don’t care if she wasn’t polite: police should expect to see people when they are not at their best.
The police are part of the public face of a community–they are street-level bureaucrats , to use Michael Lipsky’s terminology, and the gross abuse of power that we witnessed on that video should bother us all, black and white.
These recurrent videos of police violence, the testimony of former police officers, and ridiculously juvenile pouty fit/blue flu episode of the NYPD following Bill Blasio’s legitimate condemnation of police conduct during and after the arrest/harassment of Eric Garner testifies to the nationwide need for cities, mayors, and city managers to confront policing. When cops cheat, and act as a law unto themselves, the Constitution becomes meaningless, and our cities become killing grounds. What happened with Blasio and the NYPD shows we need mayors and district attorneys to commit to outside prosectors and external review processes as single-mindedly as they do stadium deals and light rail money. We need leadership, and it’s not materializing.
Or is already too late?