The NYPD police officer union’s outrageous assertion that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had “blood on his hands” in the murder of two NYPD officers is consistent with the reactionary role of police unions across the country. They came to prominence in the wake of the Civil Rights movement. Police unions have played a powerful role in resisting all manner of police reforms and in defending police officers no matter how outrageous and racist their actions. Attorney Flint Taylor goes through an analysis of how police unions have played a major role in defending cops over the last few decades in his article “Blood on Their Hands: The Racist History of Police Unions.”
I started to look at this because I had been in battle with the union here in Chicago, the Fraternal Order of Police, ever since I’ve been a lawyer, which is almost 45 years.
After I saw what was happening in New York, I did some research on New York as well as brought back to memory a lot that had happened here in Chicago.
In New York I took it all the way back to Mayor Lindsey when he attempted to deal with and bring about a civilian review agency of the police department.
In one of the instances in New York, police showed their displeasure by running through the black community banging on the tops of garbage cans, waving their guns around, and Abe Beame had to get a restraining order to stop them.
The racism of it all became more apparent under Mayor Dinkins’s reign in the ’90s, when he again revisited the idea of strengthening the civilian review agency.
Sometimes you find that the union is to the right of the police hierarchy.
When I put together the article and studied New York over the last 50 years and brought together my understanding here in Chicago, it’s clear that they’re so fundamentally racist. They don’t even represent all of the cops.
They represent the white power structure, the most reactionary aspects of the department.
Whenever racism is at the heart of police actions, you’ll find the union shoulder to shoulder defending those actions by those cops.
In Chicago it started around the Democratic National Convention in 1968. The murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke, the Black Panther leaders.
Of course the FOP became extremely actively involved in defending the indefensible in the Jon Burge police torture cases and has been at the heart of it here in Chicago for 20-30 years in resisting all forms of justice in the Burge torture cases.
Right after Burge was fired by the police department in the mid-nineties, the union had the temerity to organize a float to honor Burge and the two other officers who were found to have tortured in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The union here again is a white officers’ union. Not only that, but it represents the racist interests of a certain clique of police officers that patrol the communities of color here in Chicago.
Until there’s a fundamental change in policing and the justice system, the union is going to have that kind of power and is going to continue to flank on the right what is already a reactionary military force, which is the police department.
It’s basically universal, maybe more so in the big urban areas.
We have to educate our brothers and sisters in the broader labor unions like the SEIU and the unions that support the correctional officers.
Police unions reflect police departments; police departments are occupying forces. They were created to put down the working class. They were created to protect the interest of what is now called the one percent.
So, how could they be part of the movement that deals with workers’ rights and fights against racism when that’s what they’re defending?
Guest – G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 45 years.
Inter-Nationalism: Encountering Palestine in American Studies
Professor Steven Salaita, at age 39, had already written six outstanding books. He was a tenured professor at Virginia Tech University. He was offered a job with tenure at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, in their American Indian Studies program. He accepted the job, quit his other job, sold his house; his wife did the same, left her job. They were en route to Illinois for him to start working when he was told by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that he was not going to be hired. He was fired from a tenured job he had been offered at the University of Illinois because of his tweets criticizing Israel’s murderous war on the people of Gaza last summer.
Why? The university was under tremendous pressure, as documentary evidence shows, by private donors who said, you hire Salaita, we won’t give you money. The university caved. Salaita didn’t get his job. He’s now out of work and he’s about to file or will have filed a lawsuit trying to get his job back and reassert the principles of academic freedom, academic shared government and free speech. We hear a presentation by Steven Salaita titled “Inter-Nationalism: Encountering Palestine in American Studies” delivered at New York University in November 2014.