Written By: Anton Sawyer
I am not an Anarchist-Nazi that wishes to see all nine circles of Dante’s Hell be unleashed upon Earth as I cackle wildly knowing that there will be no law enforcement to the rescue. I honestly never thought that would be a sentence I would have to write, yet, here we are. Having looked back at everything I’ve written about the policing system of the United States, I could see where all of the comments I’ve received are coming from. Before I get too in-depth into the topic of today’s article, I need to make it clear that I am not anti-cop or anti-law enforcement specifically. I’m against the way the deck is stacked to allow those in charge of the overall safety of our society to not be held to those same standards. Along with, in many cases, them breaking those laws being encouraged by others in blue.
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Cops have one of the toughest jobs in the world. I know that is so cliché on so many levels, but with some of the personal experiences that I’ve had with real-life interactions, I’ve seen it first hand. It began nine years ago when someone close to me had a family member brutally murdered at the age of six. Out of respect for the family and situation, I won’t go into details, only that more than one cop had either cried or considered retirement after being part of the investigation. Another layer to the cake is in the fact that it wasn’t until recently that the suspect was sentenced to enough years where he will die in prison. The family had to wait for almost a decade for closure. Yet, during this entire time, the police were relentless. Whenever the case came to a dead end, they would find another way to move things forward. Seeing how much they cared and wanted to put this vile human-puke away was admirable, and you couldn’t help but feel good. I have attended police award functions, which are completely jarring on a few different levels. Hearing how some officers had dodged being killed in the line of duty by sheer luck. One story I have never forgotten was when a cop kicked down a door during a wellness check to find the person who had recently hung themselves and was near death. The officer cut them down, did CPR, and saved their life. When watching the loved ones of the victim cry tears of gratitude, you can’t help but be moved. It’s for these cops that I desperately want to see some of the core laws change to where police officers who do care, won’t have the worry of an entire department coming down on them for snitching on their “fellow man.” So it’s with this mindset I’m going to tackle the recent changes to the New York City Pride Parade (NYCPP) and their relationship with the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Recently, organizers of the NYCPP banned the police department from participating in the annual June pride parade, and related events to reduce their presence on the scene. The reasoning is because organizers feel their appearance threatened members of the LGBTQ+ community. "NYC Pride seeks to create safer spaces for the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities at a time when violence against marginalized groups, specifically BIPOC and trans communities, has continued to escalate," Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit that plans NYC Pride events, said in a statement made early May 2021. "The sense of safety that law enforcement is meant to provide can instead be threatening, and at times dangerous, to those in our community who are most often targeted with excessive force and/or without reason. NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community."
This is an issue where I can see both sides of the story. In a study done by the Williams Institute at UCLA in September 2019, one of the key findings personified the sentiment from the Heritage of Pride’s statement was fortified. “The United States has had a significant history of mistreatment of LGBT people by law enforcement, including profiling, entrapment, discrimination, and harassment by officers; victimization that often was ignored by law enforcement; and even blanket exclusions from being hired by law enforcement agencies. The Department of Justice recently summarized this history of discrimination against LGBT people in its brief to the United States Supreme Court in Windsor v. United States.” Knowing how systemic these issues are, along with the lack of accountability for officers when it comes to criminal prosecution, I completely understand where the LGBTQ+ community is coming from. Having covered a 2015 Pride Parade in a major metropolitan city for a news outlet in a very red state, I’ve been witness to some of this. New York may not be a Republican safe haven, but bigotry can be found anywhere. Unless it’s breaking some kind of laws, it is definitely their right to invite who they want to the party.
On the flip side, one thing I learned from my experiences with police and their investigation with my friend's family, law enforcement has a VERY long memory. Minute details that would be missed by the average person during a case will sometimes consume a detective. If you’ve ever watched “Law and Order: SVU” and question the legitimacy of the obsession some cops get when working a case, don’t. There are all levels of crime and all levels of obsession. A long memory is essential when it comes to cracking tough cases. Some little thing brought up in a police report that ended up being key to the overall mystery, one that jumps in the minds of those who are focused. This is also the problem.
We have seen time and time again abuses of power on every level of law enforcement get swept under the rug when the cat gets let out of the bag to the abuse. Excuses, “forgetting” facts, covering the trail completely. Over the next five years, I’m afraid that if this “canceling of cops” spreads across the country, it’s going to be an overall detriment to anyone and everyone in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. If the police feel that they aren’t wanted or needed anymore, and aren’t required to protect and serve (you can read those details here), they could actively avoid helping. Let’s say a motorist has crashed alone on the side of the road and requires medical attention. As an officer approaches, they notice a rainbow sticker on the car. If their local boys in blue have been castigated by the LGBTQ+ community, why would they stop and help? They aren’t required. They don’t have to call it in. If it stands to reason that if a bad cop “forgets” to turn on his body camera as he assaults a civilian, then why wouldn’t the same just drive on by?
I could be catastrophizing about how this is going to all play out. I’m hoping that this doesn’t turn into a long-simmering grudge. I don’t want to think that the safety of those attending the NYCPP could be in jeopardy in some fashion, and when they ask for help, they find none. Hopefully, within the next five years, there can be enough good cops to come out of the woodwork, stand up for the accountability of those who openly break the law—cop or not—and have a different world in 2025 where we know for a fact that the police will indeed have our backs no matter the circumstance. Having seen what I have it’s going to be a struggle, but all hope is not lost.
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