THE BLOG
01/11/2015 06:33 pm ET Updated Mar 13, 2015

It's Patrick Lynch, Not Mayor De Blasio, from Whom an Apology Is Due

If PBA President Patrick Lynch's words and conduct weren't so incendiary, his words and conduct would be laughable. Rather than laughable, however, they are shameful and they are explosive. Mr. Lynch outlandishly asserted that Mayor De Blasio is anti-cop and that he has thrown the New York City police officers under the bus. Worse yet, he said that the mayor has the blood of the recently murdered New York City police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu on his hands.

Are you kidding me, Mr. Lynch? And, then, on top of that you want the mayor to apologize to you and your membership. It is you, PBA union President Patrick Lynch, from whom an apology is due to the City of New York.

Mayor de Blasio never ran for Mayor of the City on an "anti-police" platform; once elected, Mayor de Blasio has never thrown police officers under the bus; and Mayor de Blasio most certainly does not have blood of the fallen officers on his hands. So, Mayor de Blasio does not owe New York City police officers an apology; and the repeated statements by police union officials that the mayor does owe police officers an apology is utter nonsense.

The PBA union-manufactured narrative and controversy -- and the repeated declarations by the PBA's leadership that the mayor must apologize to New York City police officers -- all started during Bill de Blasio's campaign for Mayor of the City of New York. During his campaign, candidate de Blasio advocated the position that New York City's unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policy needed to end because of what the unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policy was doing to undermine the honor and respect which was otherwise due to New York City police officers.

Candidate de Blasio proposed that the unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policy and practice was undermining the relationship of the police with large segments of New York City's minority communities (whose residents were being disproportionately impacted by such); and he further offered that the respect and honor due to police officers could only start to be restored with the cessation of that unconstitutional policy. That's hardly "anti-cop" as the union leadership asserted at the time and which that union leadership continues to assert even today. Rather, the mayor was, in context of course, advancing a "pro-cop"/"pro-community" position.

Then, Eric Garner was killed on July 17, 2014 by the actions and conduct of New York City police officers.

Eric Garner's death arose out of New York City's policing practice known as the "broken widows"/"quality of life" petty offense initiative which propelled police officers to "stop and detain" individuals for "petty", often not even criminal, offenses. That policy and practice, a close cousin of the unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policy and practice, disproportionately impacted on the city's minority residents and was undermining the relationship between the city's minority residents and the police -- just like the "stop and frisk" initiative had done before the mayor elected not to fight that battle any further and decided to put a stop to the litigation over the enforcement practice (thereby beginning to start the process of re-building a positive police/community relationship).

The death of Eric Garner resulted in an outcry by the public for justice because the conduct of the New York City police officers did not appear to comport with the requirements of the law; and, therefore, demanded that there had to be some public accountability for the death-causing conduct of the police officers who were involved. So, when the grand jury acted in a manner and fashion which provided no accountability whatsoever (even minimal accountability as justice demanded), such generated a hue and cry across the spectrum about the manifestly obvious injustice.

Unfortunately that outcry for justice on behalf of Eric Garner lacked the voice of Patrick Lynch (not even a whisper). He was nowhere to be heard except to propose that the police officer, who applied the chokehold that resulted in the death of Eric Gaarner, was, said Lynch, a "model police officer," for all intent and purposes "a boy-scout"; and that the police officer deserved honor and respect notwithstanding his less-than-honorable (abusive, perhaps criminal) conduct.

Mayor de Blasio rightly spoke about the grand jury's action (inaction), as the city's mayor, and as the human being he is -- and, as well, as the parent of a teenage African American son. In responding to the manifest injustice occasioned by the grand jury's inexplicable inaction, Mayor de Blasio spoke candidly of the advice which he and his wife Chirlane McCray, herself an African American parent, gave to their son (just as President Obama spoke candidly when he exposed his feelings regarding the death of Trayvon Martin -- in substance, if I had had a son, Trayvon Martin could have been my son).

Mayor de Blasio recounted that he and his wife counseled their son that he should always remember that, in our still imperfect race-conscious society, he is seen as who he is -- a Black teenage male. They counseled that such had implications in this imperfect world and that he should act accordingly (prudently) when engaged by individuals including, yes, police officers.

Mayor de Blasio and his wife reminded their son, as do all parents of all young Black and Brown male children (whatever the socio economic strata), of the power which we as a society have vested in the police, including the power to use force and to justify its use; force that could, and sometimes does, result in the death of the individual (even more so than when their son's white counterparts interact with police officers).

Remember Eric Garner? That's how the recounting of the advice came up in the mayor's post-grand jury inaction press conference. That's not "anti-police" and that's not "throwing police officers under the bus." The mayor's thoughts, as a parent of a young Black teenage son, were not at all inappropriate under the circumstances particularly since, at the same time the mayor was recounting the parental advice that he and his wife had given to their son, the mayor extolled the honor and virtue of those who serve the City of New York as police officers (as the mayor continues to do so).

So, not only are Patrick Lynch's comments utterly untrue and pure nonsense, they are slanderous and worse. They are despicable. Mr. Lynch's comments were not and are not designed to serve either the city's interest or to serve the interest of the PBA membership. They were designed to serve his own personal interests as the PBA's president. Those comments certainly did not serve the honor of the officers whom he represents and on whose behalf he supposedly seeks for them the honor and the respect they are due (when their conduct, as it ordinarily does, justifies such).

Mayor de Blasio is endeavoring to create the more perfect New York City community, a more perfect community in which police officers receive the respect and honor they are due not simply because they are police officers but because their lawful conduct deserves that respect and honor; and a more perfect New York City in which police officers are held at least minimally accountable when their conduct is less than honorable.

What are you doing, Mr. Lynch, to create that more perfect New York City community? Not much. Perhaps you can start with an apology to the City of New York.

James I. Meyerson was an Assistant General Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel of the NAACP from 1970-1981. He maintains a civil rights practice in New York City where he focuses on police misconduct.