The legacy of "broken windows" looms large in our society. The implication that cops stand between us and chaos isn't only a Bratton talking point -- people believe it.
The police force has to act in function of our democracy. The uncooked actions of the police officers constituted an assault on that democracy.
Buddhism, one of the world's great religions, teaches respect for life and affirms the dignity of each human being. This core teaching can help daily police-community encounters, even when police must do the difficult job of apprehending criminals.
The death of another human being should never have to become political before it has even had the chance to be personal, but for Black people across the United States, our mere survival is political.
What causes pain and grief in my soul is that there are those people deeply saddened and grieving over the loss of another unarmed black male to a white police officer; those able to enter into the grief and complexity of law enforcement.
The people who carry guns and wear uniforms in the name of public service have to respect and obey civilians and civilian authority or else they are an occupying army. And that's what everyone demonstrating in the streets of America is complaining about.
In New York City, since protests began over the treatment of African-Americans caught up in the criminal justice system, the police union there has done everything possible to inflame tensions and undermine civil authority.
So it's time to end the noise and hostility, and initiate change. A good place to start would be for police departments and community leaders to start speaking with each other instead of at each other, and to do it in a meeting room instead of on the streets.
The police who turned their backs didn't just turn their backs on Mayor de Blasio; they turned their backs on the legacy of Officer Ramos. They turned their backs on the people they've sworn to protect. In essence they proclaimed, "We are not walking the streets on duty to protect you."
After the death of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos a week ago, Giuliani spewed the following bit of hate about President Obama: "We've had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police."
I didn't fully understand how someone could be offended at what Mayor Deblasio told his bi-racial son. After all, I still remember when I was lectured over and over as a child in this city on the same topic.
Like many freshmen, Mayor Bill de Blasio had some moments of glory and some rookie stumbles in his first year in office. Now, as we head into the holiday season of good cheer (and school break) here is a brief report card of how the mayor performed in some of the difficult subjects.
De Blasio has been exceptionally evenhanded in his respect for police while trying to help us grasp the perspectives of people of color. He has tried to be a true friend to the NYPD, in the sense of a friend who believes in you enough to be critical when you can be better.
If soldiers in the trenches -- who were fighting the biggest war at that time -- were able to take at least a few hours to see beyond their conflict, to see the bigger picture and stop trying to kill each other, then why couldn't we?
The communities that have been harmed by aggressive policing will not be satisfied, and trust in the police will not be restored, until the processes to hold police accountable within the criminal justice system are reformed.