Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Black Lives Matter Moment in Time - Part 1, The Organized Chaos

On December 3rd, 2014 the Staten Island Grand Jury, came to the end of their investigation to the police related the death of Eric Garner. While I personally never thought what the cops in this situation did was criminal, it was in my opinion, poor tactics. It might not look good on camera striking someone resisting arrest in the knees to bring them down, but it certainly is following procedure. Jumping on the guy's back? Not good tactics.

On December 4th, 2014 I reported to work at my usual start time - 6 AM. By 830 that morning, I was suiting up with one of the detectives from my office - we were being detailed for expected protests. Little did I know at the time I wouldn't get back to my office until 11 AM the next morning and wouldn't head home until 1130 AM on December 5th.

Much of policing is "hurry up and wait", and we sat in an unmarked vehicle until nearly 430 PM on the 4th, waiting for things to actually happen. With the exception of the detective from my office, no one besides my had crowd control training beyond the basics given in the academy. My old unit, a Bronx Tracer Unit when I was a rookie, was trained for two days in "disorder control". I tried to impart some of that basic knowledge to the 8 cops and detectives assigned to me, but I shouldn't have bothered. What would follow that night was not what I had trained for. It wasn't "disorder" but "organized chaos."

When the protestors started streaming into the park at Foley Square, you could tell, if you paid attention, that this was not going to be an ordinary protest. As they marched us single file to the square, a white lady, somewhere in her 70's, ran up to me and screamed in my face "YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!" I was surprised to say the least. I felt her breath in my face as she made her pronouncement. She then ran off, back into the mingling crowd of protesters.

I didn't think too much of it and I've certainly been called worse. It was when the second little old white lady came running up to me that it struck me that it was a tactic being used by some part of the protesters. This woman didn't get quite as close, as I knew what to expect this time and turned to confront her. "YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!" New lady, same line. I thanked her for expressing her opinion in such a courteous manner. She stared at me dumbfounded and stumbled back in the direction of the crowd.

I turned to the cop behind me in line and said: "See what you get when you put stripes on? The love of little old ladies. I really feel like I earned my stripes today."

The tactics of the protesters was really slick. The leadership broke off from Foley Park in different directions, requiring the NYPD to splinter into seperate units to follow and escort. The NYPD didnt seem to have much of a plan aside from running along side the protesters. Which lead to chaos when these splinters would sweep around and intersect each other, such as they did at Houston and Broadway. They intermingled two such groups and then broke off in 4 directions. Social media was their tool and they used it well. The NYPD was played and the night was still young.

Most of the chanting was "no justice, no peace. no racist, po-lice!" which was fine. A few "fuck the police" thrown in for good measure and of course, "hands up, don't shoot!" My sister actually saw me on the BBC news feed, running along with these idiots.

Part 2 will be The Line is Drawn. Wherein I make my first and only arrest as a Sergeant, because no one was taking the NYPD "for real."

Small aside. I just ordered these gloves as the video is pretty striking. Slash proof gloves. Not stab proof. I'm not sure how tactical they are (I suspect it wouldn't be great while frisking a subject but might work well in handling protesters), but I'm a klutz in the kitchen (and retirement means more time in the kitchen), and at 10 bucks for 2 pairs I'm giving it a shot.


  1. The world is coming to a very sad place. You might remember all that cursing . . . the next time they have the audacity to call 911.

    I wonder if they ever thought of that?

  2. Mr. Tenkar, thank you for the service you provided to your city and by extension, to the country as a whole. I am happy you made it safely to retirement and hope it turns out to be a peaceful and pleasant one. Unfortunately, one of the things that people seem to be losing more and more quickly is a sense of basic courtesy (or perhaps, like all the other problems that seem to be escalating, it is simply appears that way due to the abundance of social media and 24/7 news coverage).