Thursday, October 09, 2003

The NYPD is Boss

For many years Bruce Springsteen has been seen as a spokesperson for the struggling working class in America. His album, yes album, Born in the USA, with its red, white and blue motif was used by democrats and republicans alike to establish their credentials with the common man. Springsteen refused requests to run for public office and steadfastly maintained his political independence. He was wise to do so. Those who identified with his music in the past have gotten a bit more selective lately.

In a series of concerts at Shea Stadium Bruce opined that Bush should be impeached because of the unnecessary war in Iraq. Not everyone was pleased with that statement. Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham has recently written a book entitled, Shut Up and Sing, which attacks liberal entertainers for expressing their political views. I wonder how she feels about republican Governor Adolf, sorry, Arnold Schwarzenegger? Should he shut up and act?

Springsteen wrote a song, American Skin, which tells the story of Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea killed in a hale of 41 police bullets in 1999. He was struck by a total of 19 shots when he was mistaken for a rape suspect under mysterious circumstances. Actually the circumstances were not so mysterious. The cops said he went for his wallet and they thought it was a gun. Diallo isn't here to talk so I don't know if he did anything at all. The trial was moved from the Bronx to Albany in upstate New York and the four policemen were acquitted of the most serious charges. Why does Simi Valley come to mind when I think of this case?

Apparently it is not good enough that their colleagues were acquitted. The NYPD feels that the case can never be mentioned again. When Springsteen sang American Skin at Shea the NYPD withdrew his courtesy escort. It was returned the following night when Bruce was a good boy and didn't sing the offending song.

This story sums up why I am no fan of the police. Yes, I would dial 911 in an emergency but I would do so with trepidation. As Al Sharpton says, black people fear both the cops and the robbers. The officers who killed Amadou Diallo were looking for a rape suspect, which is a good thing. But they were trigger happy when they saw a black face and that makes me afraid of them.

I don't need lectures about crime in black neighborhoods and the need for police protection. Of course we need police protection. But it is difficult to trust armed men who are petty enough to take their marbles and go home because they are in a snit.