Lobbying to protect police under a hate crime statute shows union bosses’ lack of political priorities.
It was less than a year ago that I stood on a busy Center City street in Philadelphia and recorded one of Mayor Michael Nutter’s greatest hits: a nearly 8 minute rant about the need for stricter gun laws.
Most notably among his points, articulated as if he were in the pulpit condemning sin, was the need for universal background checks and a limit on the amount of bullets one person can discharge at a single time.
“We have more regulations about what you can do on our hunting grounds than we do about what can be done on the streets of our city,” he said, with a roaring crowd cheering him on.
Mayor Nutter, a self-proclaimed supporter of the 2nd Amendment, said he also favors the 1st Amendment, which should grant him the right to gather on any city street without fear of “someone running down the street” with an illegal weapon.
Though some will and have written off the outgoing chief executive’s comments as a hyperbole, Mayor Nutter knows all-to-well how disastrous an illegal gun in the hands of a mentally unstable person can be.
While preparing for an event in May of 2008, the two-term Democratic mayor received a call informing him that a Sergeant with the Philadelphia Police Department was murdered by a gunman who had an AK-47.
“His body was obliterated by that weapon while trying to do his duty,” yelled the Mayor, who asserted that weapons, such as the one that killed Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski and “left a wife without a husband and kids without a father,” are “weapons of war” that should only be the hands of police officers and military personnel.
A former legislator of fourteen years, Mayor Nutter urged Congress to act by at least having a vote on the issue.
“There is no other type of tragedy in this country that we would allow to go so unaddressed for so long,” he exclaimed, “not car accidents, not planes, not trains, not a bag of spinach on the shelf it was found to hurt someone. Every one of them would be taken away and something would be done about it.”
Even with the passion in his voice and the practicality of his suggestions, the Mayor’s calls seemed to fall on deaf ears, at least among those who really needed to hear it.
In the aftermath of two NYPD detectives being killed by Mr. Ismaaiyl Brinsley in an ambush attack in Brooklyn, the NAACP renewed the call for increased gun control measures.
A statement released by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund reads in part:
“These two killings and the life-threatening injury, like so many other unfortunate incidences of gun violence, provide a stark example of the need for sensible gun control measures, and the need to thoughtfully address untreated mental illness.”
Both the NAACP’s and the Mayor of Philadelphia’s political priorities, on this issue, is where it should be, which is more than I can say for the Fraternal Order of Police, who in response to the recent attacks on law enforcement officers is requesting that its 300,000 members be included under the Congress’ hate crimes statutes.
The motive behind this call is driven in part by the fact that killings of police in ambush attacks have risen, which is a fair concern. However, like most sh*t that comes from police unions, it’s self-serving, only considering the interest of one party and ignoring their institution’s contributions to the current strife.
Police unions, with their hefty budgets and visible pulpits, could seriously move the needle on the conversation around gun control. Instead, they’d rather exploit tragedies to acquire new benefits that will exacerbate their members’ perceived feelings of “my life matters more.”
Though hate crimes is a major societal problem – the FBI reported 7,722 incidents of hate crimes in 2006 – the stats of those who were victimized because of their occupation didn’t even make the board.
To compare police officers, who made the conscious choice to engage in a high-risk occupation, to individuals who every day wake up unable to change their race and sexual orientation and other things about them which makes them targets to abusers, is insensitive, absurd, ludicrous and just plain ridiculous.
If we are serious about police reforms and strengthening community and police relations, than police unions will need to get their political priorities in order and attempt to consider the impact their decisions have on the lives of people who don’t pay dues and wear a shield.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: Julio Cortez/AP