Cops Shot the Kid, Kid Shot the Cops (Part Four of a Four part series)

Police carry away a participant in a march organized by Occupy Wall Street in New York on Saturday Sept. 24, 2011. Marchers represented various political and economic causes. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

Part Four: Media & Policing-Selling Fear

“They shootin’, look in the barrel / Then he made the front page of the Miami Herald / Or the Chi Tribune, nozzles with silent doom / We in that A-Town Jornal-list, violent goons / You should print my information, quote my rhyme / And keep me in between these New York and L.A. Times / I’m just a victim of society..”

Nas (Ludacris): “Made You Look (Remix)”

“I grew up on the crime side, The New York Times side / Stayin’ alive was no jive”

Wu-Tang Clan (Raekwon): “C.R.E.A.M”

You never want to be the headline news. Ever. Nothing good comes out of it. If you’re a bad guy, it means you got caught, made the newspapers and you’re on the evening news doing the standard perp walk, or perhaps you have a white sheet over your decomposing corpse while cops are huddled around your body checking their texts from side chicks or sports updates, you know; the important stuff. If you’re a uniform and you make the news, you probably done fucked up..the media loves that! Sadly, cop shot headlines dominate the news feeds when it does happen which unfortunately is a stark reminder that your nine to five is nowhere as dangerous as their daily routine. I know, I know, they signed up for it. Once you take that blase oath to honor and defend the constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic and to serve and protect the citizens of your state/city/prison/jail/farm (maybe not a farm..but, you knowwhatimsayin!) then, as Ivan Drago once stated: “If he dies, he dies”. Look, police killed in the line of duty is horrible shit. Horrible. I’m not making light of it by any means, but the media? There is a difference between headlines and sensationalism. The news coverage of police matters borders on obsessive and ridiculous. The negative coverage does no favors for the profession, but as I have referenced throughout this series, police themselves carry some of the brunt and blame for their universal scorn. It is no wonder that certain populations in this country view police through an Ivan Drago lens.

The media loves this.

The influence of social media cannot be understated. It’s gotten to the point that I stumbled across an actual business card for a drug dealer who advertised his hustle on his card with his cell number and all of his social media handles. “I got that good-good, holla any time” in bold text is printed on the card. This is the type of stuff that is mind-boggling. Eventually, the street pharmacist will be collared, and he will have the nerve to fight his charges cause he can. The problem here is that the streets will scream the police are “hating on him” and he will use the tired “I’m just trying to eat, its hard out here” argument, and this guy will gain a slew of vocal sympathizers. But when a cop is shot or killed, their death dealer is sometimes hailed, and often immortalized in rap verse. Man listen, I would have never heard of Assata Shakur (formerly Joanne Chesimard), or Mumia Abu-Jamal if it wasn’t for Public Enemy and Krs-One rapping about them. A quick search of their names will yield plenty of articles linked to their crimes of murdering police officers. Shakur is currently living in Asylum in Cuba. She is still one of the FBI’s Most Wanted. I’ve covered how the culture of cops and robbers makes for a thick foundation of Hip hop content throughout this series. It is still fascinating to see as technology evolves, how the media parlays their influence into the culture. Certain street figures such as the late Larry Davis who shot six NYPD officers in my hometown of the Bronx in 1986, and beat the case, and Pappy Mason who had his Bebos drug dealing crew murder NYPD Officer Ed Byrne in Queens in 1988 are deities in street lore. Kinda strange I tell you.

“New York streets where killers’ll walk like Pistol Pete and Pappy Mason Gave the young boys admiration / Prince from Queens and Fritz from Harlem / Street legends, the drugs kept the hood from starving”

Nas: “Get Down”

Most people point to a few high profile incidents over a couple of years ago such as Trayvon Martin in 2012, and Michael Brown & Eric Garner in 2014 as the nucleus of the recent discord between minority communities and law enforcement. The Black Lives Matter movement became prominent in the midst of several marches and protests nationwide amid the backdrop of what seemed like never ending media clips of videos of police captured shootings of Blacks nationwide. The optics could not have been worse. I always tell my friends who are not employed in law enforcement that footage of police shootings, no matter how damning they appear to be, never show the encounter in its entirety (Most of the time). As someone who was captured on cell phone footage fighting on a subway platform years ago while attempting to make an arrest, I can sit here and tell you that the video footage I was a part of was not a good look for me, but it was only a snippet of what had actually transpired before it got to that point of physicality. The use of force scale can escalate from verbal exchanges to a fatal shooting in a moments notice. Those fatal encounters are the incidents that the media capitalizes on. Look, the 41 shots that ended Amadou Diallo’s life in The Bronx in 1999 and the 50 shots that took out Sean Bell in Queens in 2006 are outliers. There is no way, let me be clear..no way I am defending those shootings or the officers involved in those incidents, but what if the sometimes irresponsible media coverage either unwittingly or knowingly pours gasoline on an already volatile relationship between the community and police with provocative coverage? Perhaps those “41 shots” and “50 shots” headlines contributed to the future killing of a uniformed police officer. Fast forward to policing in America during this decade. In the aftermath of the aforementioned incidents and the troubling footage of several police involved shootings, this decade has also seen the executions of uniformed police officers by the hand of men consumed with a hatred of law enforcement, perhaps encouraged by the incidents of the last several years. In 2014, two NYPD officers were gunned down in Brooklyn while sitting in their marked vehicles on a street corner. In 2017, an NYPD officer was shot and killed while manning a mobile patrol command RV in The Bronx. In 2016 in Dallas, 12 police officers were shot, 5 of them killed “as payback” for police shootings of blacks according to the official report of the incident. Just last week in Davis, California, 22 year old rookie police officer Natalie Corona was executed while tending to motorists involved in a car accident. All of these incidents echo the bad old days of cops and robbers. The cycle just keeps churning. Taking a knee to protest perceived policing injustice only brought more unwarranted and skewered media analysis. More ammunition for the media to forward political agendas at the chagrin of those trying to actually fix the issues instead of exploit it.

He might win his lawsuit against the NFL and he became a media sensation for his crusade against police brutality. I just wished he went about things differently because I’m a big 49er fan.

“And now there’s blood on my Tims, snitches calling 1-800 crime stoppers when they see me they like (ooh ooh) / Cause they want that thousand dollars / and not only that, police will die to catch a fuckin’ collar”

Mobb Deep (Havoc): “Get Away”
I challenge you to find a better headline!

I stated in part one of this series that there could not be a worse time to be a police officer in America. The comedy of absurd headlines seems like they were leftovers from a Saturday Night Live staff meeting. The NYPD which constantly finds itself making headlines due in equal parts to the spotlight of policing in the center of the universe, but also due to their sometimes brutal style of publicly shaming its own officers, made headlines last week by taking the guns and badges of 4 officers because they were all cheating on each other with the others significant others, and they were scared there would be a crime of passion. This could have been handled in house. Instead, we get this doozy of a headline: “Cops & Throbbers”. Also currently in the news; a Brooklyn detective is being forced by the department to submit to treatment from psych services due to his lawsuit against his former supervisor, his female sergeant who he claims stuffed her panties in his mouth during an argument about her leaving her underwear laying around in their co-ed locker room. If the streets already harbor resentment for police and hardly respect law enforcement, headlines such as these won’t go a long way toward improving relations. Maybe I shoulda been a fireman. They save cats in trees.

“He dropped the gun, so went the glory / And this is the way I have to end this story / He was only seventeen, in a madman’s dream / The cops shot the kid, I still hear him scream”

Slick Rick: “Children’s Story”
“The cops shot the kid, the cops shot the kid, the cops shot..” (repeat)

******Follow me for monthly articles from a cutting edge perspective on a variety of topics******

JF thesixthboroblog

Cops Shot the Kid, Kid Shot the Cops (Part Three of a Four part series)


Part Three: 10-13 OFFICER DOWN

“T-O-N-Y Invade N-Y, multiply kill a cop, me and you, you got beef, I got beef / T-O-N-Y invade N-Y, multiply kill a cop..”

Capone-N-Noreaga: “T.O.N.Y. (Top of New York)

Cop shot, cop shot, cop shot, cop shot / Keep shootin’ my people, we will shoot back..Every police is a punk ass bitch / This is for my ni@@as gettin’ frisked in the streets”

Dead Prez: “Cop Shot”

 

Those who were in the game back in those days will tell you that it changed forever during the early morning hours of February 26th, 1988 in front of a house in drug ravaged South Jamaica, Queens.  The 103rd Precinct, much like all of the precincts responsible for patrol coverage in the uber violent streets of New York besieged by the Crack epidemic had been dealing with a staggering number of murders related to drug crews enforcing their territories in and around housing projects such as the Baisley Houses.  I have been writing about “the game” or “cops and robbers” throughout this series but what transpired on this date during a cold winter night in 1988 in the Rotten Apple shook not only the city to its core, but even managed to piss off the President.  Police and “bad guys” never agree on anything, but history will say that the murder of Police Officer Edward Byrne by members of the Bebos on orders from jailed drug enforcer “Pappy” Mason marked the beginning of the end of drug crews in New York.  The end game began on February 26th, 1988.  

Detectives investigate at the scene of P.O. Edward Byrne’s murder in South Jamica, Queens, 1988

I’m glad I never responded to a 10-13 when I was a cop in The Bronx.  I responded to quite a few 10-85 calls which is an officer calling for backup/assistance and you literally fly over to the location of the call depending on the urgency expressed by the officer over the radio.  You’re always nervous going to a 10-85 because you don’t want it to be a 10-13 by the time you arrive.  10-13 is the worst shit any cop will respond to in NYPD.  That’s when the reality of the job hits you..seeing another uniform gravely injured or dying..or dead.

Aside from whacking most of his friends in “Juice”, ‘Pac infamously got his Bishop on in the streets of Atlanta one October night in 1993, shooting 2 off duty cops, who were also brothers, during a shady confrontation during which the lit brothers threatened ‘Pac and his entourage.  He beat the case, but his short and violent career would end three years later in Las Vegas.

Ever since NWA released their ground breaking anti-police anthem “F**k Tha Police” in 1988, Hip Hop; which is thoroughly immersed in street culture and at times, the violence that accompanies street life has had as warm a relationship with police as do Red Sox and Yankee fans.  NWA’s devastating right hook shook the FBI to the point that they sent a letter to the group’s record company asking that they refrain from promoting and performing the song because it advocates violence against law enforcement.  Well what do you expect from an aggressive rap group hailing from a city run down by black on black gang violence, crack wars (there goes Crack again), poverty and hyper aggressive policing?  The name of their record label is Ruthless Records!  NWA unknowingly broke the levees for rap artists who began to express their disdain for all things law enforcement.  Anti-police rap songs began popping up every year ever since, including fellow Cali gangsta provocateur Ice-T who used his Rap/Metal hybrid Body Count to unleash the to the point “Cop Killer” in 1992.  Why does Hip Hop hate the police?  I can come up with a few reasons. 

“Yeah, and you don’t stop / (Cause it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover cop)  yeah, and you don’t stop / (Cause it’s 1-8-7 on an undercover cop) “

Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg: “Deep Cover”

Hip Hop music is the voice of the streets.  Just like sports can be an opportunity for kids to escape the urban plight, an aspiring rapper can rhyme their way out of the hood and become an international star.  However, rappin’ & trappin’ can sometimes be a hazardous obstacle course to navigate which can prevent one from escaping that life.  It makes no sense to be a “trapper rapper” anyway right?  Police are the ultimate haters who can thwart the plans for any aspiring MC who is trying to leave the life to go legit.  Throw in the instances where real honest and legit working class blacks and latinos who just happen to live in violence prone neighborhoods and have had unfortunate negative police encounters, and you can see why the streets habitually salute police with the bird and a screw face.  But what about the police who are also honest and really do want to make a difference in the neighborhoods they patrol?  I know, I know, you must be reading this and thinking to yourself “Honest cops? GTFOH!” You see, the streets will have you effed the eff up with the way the game was, still is, and always will be.  But one constant is this:  You don’t kill a cop, ever.  Yet, every once in a while, fellow officers are racing to the location of a 10-13, a job that is always grim in circumstance.  

Fuck the police? Philly rappers Cool C & Steady B robbed a bank in 1996 after having a few hits in the late 80’s.  They ended up killing a Philadelphia police officer during the botched job.  Cool C was sentenced to death, and is currently running through his appeals.  Steady B is serving life without parole in Pennsylvania state prison.  

Hip Hop artists have always romanticized over all things Mafia.  The braggadocio nature of being the king of the jungle among rhymesayers can actually crossover into real life.  Unfortunately, some hip hop crews are still rooted in street life and allegedly continue to conduct criminal acts, the main hustle being tried and true drug slinging.  Unlike their shadowy Mafioso counterparts who go to great lengths to hide in plain sight, rappers may drop a line or two about that body their man caught out of town which gets the Feds all excited because nothing is easier than telling on yourself right? (I covered this subject in Part Two of this series).  As for “Goodfellas”, I can’t remember a time in my life where I read about a mob family sanctioning the killing of a member of law enforcement because why in hell would they want to attract that kind of attention to their organization?  Killing a cop is like condemning your crew to suicide.  The police will crush your criminal empire, just like they did back in ’88 after Ed Byrne was assassinated.  

“Fuck em! Can’t find peace on the streets / Till the ni@@as get a piece / Fuck police (I hear ya!)”

2Pac: “Souljah’s Revenge”

While the NYPD began to exert extreme pressure on drug crews with their TNT (Tactical Narcotics Team) squad, the Feds became involved after the Byrne killing.  The brazen act perpetrated by Pappy Mason’s Bebos crew, an offshoot of Lorenzo ‘Fat Cat’ Nichols organization, began a domino effect of the police sweeping up drug gangs across the city.  Backed by the limitless resources of an incensed federal government including a rebuke of Crack related violence by then President Ronald Reagan, the NYPD slowly began claiming the streets back from the grip of the blood thirsty drug gangs who took over the city’s urban communities in the early 80’s.  By mid 90’s, most of the drug gangs had been arrested and convicted.  Every once in a while, you read about another drug conspiracy uncovered by the joint NYPD/Federal task force in the same places in the city, in the projects.  It’s as common as that dude who swears he can rhyme from your block, cause everyone has a hot 16 in NY right? 

Reaganomics was a gift and a curse for the drug game

I had a few scraps while I was a patrol officer in NY.  I was fortunate to come out of those incidents without injury, same for some of my friends who are still on the job.  Every time I hear about a cop shot back home in NY, I always get nervous thinking about my old partner and my other friends.  They are all born and raised in the communities they serve in.  The streets will never understand that.  It goes beyond the uniform.  Having friends who used to be in the game and then actually embarking on career across a few levels of law enforcement all the while staying ingrained in Hip Hop culture can be confusing.  Loyalties are tested, but I know who I am.  I am a good dude who used to put on a uniform with the goal of not becoming a 10-13 and signing out at the end of the day, no different than the overwhelming majority of law enforcement practitioners nationwide.  (10-13 is unique only to NYPD, the ten code or emergency code for responding to a police emergency varies nationwide).

******Part Four: Media & Policing: Selling Fear coming soon….follow me for monthly articles from a cutting edge perspective on a variety of topics******

JF thesixthboroblog

Cops Shot the Kid, Kid Shot the Cops (Part Two of a Four part series)

Part Two: STREETS IS WATCHING

The NYPD, be hatin’ / And hopin’ that they gon’ catch us ridin’ dirty / Tryin’ to catch me ridin’ dirty..

Chamillionaire: “Ridin’ Dirty (East Coast Remix)”

Way back when I was a shorty-shit stain running around my block in the Bronx in the mid to late 80s playing all kinds of street games such as tag, kill the man with the ball, or favorites such as dare, manhunt or spin the bottle, I always felt like there was another, more dangerous game being played while I was running around having fun, doing what kids do.  The 1980’s was known as the Crack Era in the 5 boroughs, and Crack eventually made millions for young Black and Latino teens and young men throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Harlem.  You see, at that time, the NYPD was comprised of three separate entities: Housing Police (Projects), Transit Police (Subways), and Patrol (Precincts). Drug crime ravaged the streets, but the projects were hit especially hard.  New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) depended on the housing police to protect its residents, but they were overwhelmed by the drug gangs and overwhelming crime wave that spawned from Crack.  So while the kids were playing outside, the real game being played was cops and robbers.  I saw so many cops chasing people outside and inside my building I used to think they were also playing tag.  Matter of fact, cops and robbers looked fun.  I wanted to play too!

“Ayo it’s hell on earth / Who’s next or gonna be first? / The projects is front line / And the enemy is one-time / I ain’t gotta tell you, it’s right in front of your eyes”

Mobb Deep: “Hell on Earth (Front Lines)”

Officer Rosado was the housing police officer assigned to my building; the Bailey Houses, a 21 floor high rise which took up an entire block.  Must have sucked for him to do vertical patrols, which is when police ride the elevator all the way to the top floor of a building, then walk up to the roof landing for inspection, and proceed to walk down the stairwell of each floor, zig-zagging both stairwells performing security checks and addressing whatever crime you may stumble across.  I look back and shake my head because I’m sure Officer Rosado disregarded all of the project shit he encountered.  I know this because he was never around when stuff went down.  They used to hustle in front of my building, someone was always calling the pay phone, then deal from the benches or inside the lobby in the staircases.  Sometimes, there would be fights, or some cats from another block getting jumped or robbed or stabbed and shot in the back of my building.  The cops were never around, and when they had to come to my building, life sucked for them.  They had to watch out for air mail.  Ducking eggs, onions, apples, shit, the entire produce section from Key Food being thrown at them and their cars, then they had to walk up the stairs because the elevators would be shut off.  Don’t ask me how that happened most of the times po-po visited my block.  Someone was watching. I know some dudes had police scanners, or there would be lookouts from houses and smaller apartment buildings across the street.  Sometimes, there would be dudes looking down from the roof of my building.  When New Jack City came out in 1991, I remember how my classmates in Junior High were buzzing about how Nino had lookouts on the roof of The Carter with two way radios, looking out for one time.  I wasn’t impressed because they used to do that on my block, and at all of the other buildings around my neighborhood all the way through to Marble Hill Houses (projects).  Coincidentally, Queens own infamous drug dealing click the Supreme Team headed by Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff, employed lookouts with two way radios during their reign over the Baisley Houses in Queens in the Crack Era 80s.  Whether it was my hood; Bailey in the BX, or Baisley in Queens, it always seemed like the police were playing from behind, because the streets were always watching.  Cops and robbers was a blowout sometimes, cops usually on the wrong side, until the inevitable 4th quarter come back, sometimes with an assist from the Feds.

IMG_3930-678x381
“Cash money baby”. Too many trap stars are trying to be the next Nino Brown.

Speaking of the alphabet boys, talk about haters right? The Feds are always looming with a RICO indictment if you really play the streets that hard.  No one plays “the game” fair.  Shit, the dudes playing the game sometimes make up the rules as they go along, chasing that dollar with triple beam dreams.  Everyone is watching somehow, someway.  But in today’s social media obsessed world, it seems like the roles have flip-flopped.  Police are the ones being stalked and recorded.  I don’t know how I would have reacted to having cell phones recording me while I’m trying to make an arrest, a legal arrest mind you, but oh, yeah, that’s right; this did happen to me once in 2009.  I was working for NYPD Transit at the time, on post in full uniform at the 42nd Street Port Authority Subway Station. Suddenly I saw a commotion coming from the Brooklyn bound trains.  I ran downstairs to investigate and I saw a man staggering towards me holding his bloodied face, blood pouring from his nose like a faucet, and several passengers pointing to another man who I had just noticed with a red jacket, and a red bandanna covering his face.  That man immediately squared up at me and threw a punch that just missed my face.  It was on. After a few swings and misses from both of us, I managed to tackle him against the benches on the subway platform.  Now, I’m trying to put this guys arms behind his back to arrest him, but he seems as strong as 10 men, he locked his arms up, a classic passive resistance move, and he began kicking the shit out of my shins with his construction Timbs but at that point, backup had arrived and that’s when I saw the cell phones.  People taking pictures and recording instead of calling 911.  I whacked this guy on his legs with my baton a few times so he could stop kicking me, and two other officers finally pulled his arms together to slap handcuffs on him.  People were actually saying to me that we beat the guy up as we led him upstairs and out of the train station into our police car for transportation for arrest processing.  Really?  I beat him up?  It was later determined that he needed to be taken to the hospital because he exhibited signs of being under the influence of drugs..which hospital blood tests revealed to be PCP. Contaminated Marijuana was also recovered and field tested positive from his book bag.  That explained his crazy strength and resistance to pain.

verticalnypd
NYPD officers conducting a 10-75 Vertical Patrol in a NYC housing project building, one of the most dangerous hazards for NYPD Housing Police.

Turns out that clips of that video fight were on YouTube for a couple of days, and the majority of the video clips just showed the parts where I’m hitting the guy in the legs with a baton while the other cops are pulling his arms back, so it looks like we’re beating this guy up, or I’m an “abusive fucking pig” as one user commented on the video post, but that’s not the case because you didn’t see what happened before it got to that point.  This can be the case for numerous videos involving police incidents.  I know what you must be saying while reading this: “He’s a police sympathizer!”, “He’s making up excuses”.  Nah. I’m just being real, because video footage also comes in handy when police are actually being abusive or violating civil rights.  However, in some footage of police shootings that have made for the divisive times we find ourselves in now in this America, keep in mind that there was unseen footage or unknown events that occurred before footage is captured, not in all of these cases, but for some.  I’ll discuss this further in Part Four of this series.  Nowadays, with more and more police departments nationwide adopting body cameras, security cameras on every corner and in every store, and just about every one has a cellphone quick to record, everything is captured on video footage today.  There is no need for lookouts with 2 way radios or dudes flipping Pigeons on the roof to alert that one-time is coming through anymore. Everyone has a phone, or you can always have a snitch in your crew.  Don’t sleep on C.I’s.  Confidential Informants come through big time to help clinch cases for police agencies across multiple levels of law enforcement nationwide.  Or, in the most ironic way possible, you have those instances when keeping it real goes wrong, as it appears to be this way with the recent arrest and federal drug trafficking indictment of Philly rap & trap star AR-AB and his OBH (Original Block Hustlaz) crew.  Dude really went on DJ Vlad’s famous VladTV show and snitched on himself by explaining in detail how he inherited his drug connect when his plug was killed.  For those not familiar with the slang, a plug is a drug connect; the person who you get your “work” (drugs) from.  So what AR-AB did was basically tell police that he is the connect! If there is ever a facepalm moment for both the streets and law enforcement, this was it.  If you think police agencies are not plugged into the world of hip hop and it’s connections to the street game, then I’m here to tell you that I ride a Unicorn to work everyday and I have Big Pun’s new mixtape.  This was an alley-oop indictment for the feds.  See, cops and robbers is the game of life.  There are no rules.  Police got smart and now peruse social media for ignorance of epic proportions, it makes for easy warrants and indictments. Just check out  Worldstar, Mediatakeout, and YouTube.  Dozens of videos of people being jumped, knocked out, or cops chasing or beating on someone, or some gang bragging about shooting, or robbing someone, flashing stacks of cash & jewelry.  Streets and cops are watching..all the time.

AR-AB
Assault Rifle AB keeping it too real (photo courtesy Don Diva Media)

“Still a nigga like me don’t playa-hate / I just stay awake / This real hip-hop and it don’t stop / ‘Till we get the po-po off the block / It’s bigger than Hip..Hop”

Dead Prez: “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop”

It has never been a worse time  than now to be a cop.  Who the hell wants to sign up for a profession for twenty plus years to witness the horrors of humanity on a daily basis, and be judged, criticized, vilified and hated for the uniform you wear?  You might lose friends, family might look at you funny, and your dog might not cuddle next you anymore.  In this America, cops and robbers is broadcast 24-7.  I used to want to play when I was younger.  It was different back then in the 80’s during the Crack Era.  It seemed like cops were cool and drug gangs were bad, except for Tony Montana.  He was cool.  Nowadays,  if you lock up your local Nino Brown, You’re the bad guy.   Pardon me, I gotta take a knee.

img_3312
Say hello to my….Banjo?

“The type to start a beef then run to the cops / When I see you in the streets, got one in the drop…..When the streets is watching / Blocks keep clocking / Waiting for you to break, make your first mistake / Can’t ignore it….streets….

Jay-Z: “Streets is Watching”

AFTERWORD

It is important for me to stress something to all of you: I am not a policing expert, nor do I claim to be one.  I am simply someone who over 13 years and counting, has worked in several levels of law enforcement including police, corrections, and private security / bodyguard work for the NYPD, Federal Bureau of Prisons, State of Florida Corrections, and security management for Universal Music Group.  Over the course of my employment for these agencies, I have met and worked with a lot of people who I have had interesting experiences with.  I am someone who has taken his experience growing up in urban Bronx, NY, and parlayed that mentality into a law enforcement career that hopefully still has not yet peaked.  Since I began this series, I have been praised and criticized for my views on how policing and the hip-hop/street lifestyle are intertwined.  To everyone out there, these are simply my experiences and opinions.  The media has an agenda, therefore it is important for me to “keep it real” by providing a peek behind the blue line, but also giving a street perspective.  I welcome any and all criticism, comments, opinions, advice, props…you won’t get this perspective from USA Today.  Be well peeps!

******Part Three: 10-13 Officer Down coming soon….follow me for monthly articles from a cutting edge perspective on a variety of topics******

JF thesixthboroblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cops Shot the Kid, Kid Shot the Cops (Part One of a Four part series)

Part One: INSIDE POLICE PROFILING

“I drive up and down Harlem blocks / Iced out watch / Knots in my socks / Cops think I’m selling rocks / Pulling me over, to see if I’m drunk / But I’m sober / They wouldn’t fuck with me if I drove a Nova”

Big L: “The Enemy”

“Woop-woop!  That’s the sound of the police / Woop-woop that’s the sound of the beast”

KRS-One: “Sound of da Police”

During a muggy summer weekend this past August, Seventy-four people were shot in Chicago.  74.  Seventy-four! Of those shot, 12 were killed in shootings that a flummoxed Mayor Rahm Emanuel chalked up to gang violence in low income Black and Latino neighborhoods.  Of course the shootings were the product of gang violence in Black and Brown neighborhoods where gangs shoot, stab, and pummel each other for control of drug dealing territories.  The Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, Maniac Latin Disciples, Vice Lords, and other gangs terrorizing the poverty stricken communities on Chicago’s West and South Sides are no different from uber violent hoods across America from L.A. to New York and from Detroit to Houston.  Pick an area code and the demographics are the same.  Low income communities have the worst crime rates and those with predominately minority populations tend be the most problematic.  This is not hot off the presses breaking news.  It is a sad stereotype.  But you know what is really sad news regarding Chicago’s violent weekend?  Weeks after the shootings, police have not made one arrest.

Not one arrest in 74 shooting incidents.

I have strong opinions on why I believe this to be the case, which I will cover as well as other issues over a four part series but for now, I’ll delve into police profiling and why it exists and why it works to a certain extent.

CHICAGO-GANGS
An overview of Chicago’s gang problem

I worked as a police officer for nearly 5 years with the NYPD, the bulk of that time was spent working the rough and tumble project ridden streets of the South Bronx’ 40th Precinct right on the corner of E. 138th Street and Alexander Avenue, across the street from the Mitchel Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development, one of many violent “projects” in the confines of my precinct’s patrol jurisdiction.  Of the nearly 4 years I spent first working a foot post along the Melrose and Jackson Houses and later in a patrol squad with my partner and good friend Deon Ayala, I do not ever recall issuing a summons to, or arresting a White man or woman.  I think I would remember if I had because it would be such an outlier considering that the South Bronx is historically predominately Latino and Black, matter of fact, I looked up city demographics for the 10451 area code where the 40th Precinct is located, and as of 2015 it was not shocking to see that there is a very small White population of approximately 920 Whites living in the confines of the 40th Precinct.  That number is surely increasing due to gentrification blooming along Bruckner Boulevard and its ideal location for transportation via the Willis Avenue Bridge and the 6 Train taking you right into Harlem and Downtown however, where the city is trying to make certain strategic locations in the outer boroughs trendy, the projects are still the projects, and so are the surrounding blocks.  Of those 900 plus Whites that have a 10451 Zip Code, I’ll bet virtually none of them live in NYCHA developments.  None.  You won’t find one hipster walking out of apartment 7B from a building in Patterson projects.  The numbers from that same survey in 2015 show nearly 16,000 Blacks and 27,000 Hispanics living in the 10451 Zip Code in the South Bronx.  These numbers are nearly identical across all NYCHA developments and the neighboring city blocks in other parts of the Bronx as well as Brooklyn, Queens, and parts of Manhattan.  Poverty and low income communities across the 5 boroughs are linked with predominately minority (Black and Latino) populations which unfortunately translates to high crime rates.  Yes, violent crime is down in New York City, which can claim to be the safest big city in America, but believe me when I tell you that those numbers can be just as fugazy as the Diamonds Lefty tried to give to Donnie Brasco when they first met.  Nonetheless, hazy Compstat statistics aside, the NYPD has done a good job driving down crime to historic lows which can attributed to numerous reasons.  One of those reasons may be that unspoken taboo in law enforcement circles; profiling.  What’s profiling? Lemme tell you.

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NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit flexing the heavy artillery

Critics argue that police profiling is a civil rights violation because police departments unfairly target minorities for stops and inquiries in minority dominant communities.  Criminal profiling is a tried and true practice but criminal profiling can become racial profiling inadvertently; based on the ethnic makeup of police patrol jurisdictions.  For the record, keep in mind that the author is a medium complexion Puerto Rican born and raised in the Bronx, and has lived in NYCHA developments, and other heavily minority populated neighborhoods in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens including Castle Hill, Spanish Harlem and Corona. As a teen, I was stopped without warning and frisked numerous times, including a few occasions in which I was cursed at, had my pockets contents thrown on the ground, and handcuffed while cops ran my name for a warrant check.  All of these encounters occurred in or around crime ridden neighborhoods, and I was stopped because of the way I dressed at the time, which was the standard New York Hip Hop street uniform according to the seasons: jeans and Timbs with a hoodie or North Face in the winter, Uptowns or Jordans with shorts, a tee and a Yankee hat in the summer.  Perhaps my complexion had something to do with it and I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was being profiled.  I had a good job post high school and I made some money on the side as a mixtape DJ, so I bought nicer clothes, and some jewelry.  I became used to cops noticing me.  I suspect they profiled me.  I told myself if I ever became a cop, I would police the streets respectfully.  I would make it a point to communicate more, rather than be hands on.  Life is can be ironic because after I completed my Army bid, I did become a cop, joining the NYPD but a funny thing happened to me when I hit the streets as a rookie.  People hate the police.  All they see is the uniform, not the person.  Police don’t have a chance.  It affected the way I interacted.  Working in the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx, there is no profiling because just about everyone you encounter is Latino or Black, and the precinct is responsible for patrolling an area that has the highest concentration of public housing developments in the entire country so how in the hell would police be unfairly targeting minorities?

“The streets is filled with undercovers Homicide chasin’ brothers / The D’s on the roof tryin’ to, watch us and knock us…Nas is a rebel of the street corner / Pullin’ a Tec out the dresser / Police got me under pressure”

Nas: “Represent”

Scour the demographics for police precincts across the five boroughs and you will find predicable Compstat numbers in some of the worst neighborhoods in the city.  East New York, Brownsville, Jamaica, Long Island City which houses the biggest housing development in the entire country; the infamous Queensbridge Houses which makes the local news for stereotypical drug crew busts just as much as it’s famous Hip Hop artists pump out new product for the masses.  But wait, New York City is the safest big city in the country you say?  Sure it is..Times Square and Battery Park City, DUMBO, and the  East Village all welcome you to their $2,500 a month studio apartments as well as the still being gentrified historic neighborhoods of Harlem and Spanish Harlem on the east side.  Oh yeah, those neighborhoods have some of the worst gang problems and projects in Manhattan.  Upper east side or west side, no matter how many multi-million dollar condos blossom, they are still across the street from gang infested, pissy stairwell, Section 8 public housing.  There is still something oddly funny about seeing fair skinned hipsters who are totally oblivious to the ghetto angst surrounding them, as they pedal away on their Citibikes or jog along the unforgiving concrete in front of the projects, adjacent to their million dollar rentals.  Local community leaders complain to the local news about racial stereo types.  “They don’t stop people in Staten Island.” Well, they sure do, in the 120th or “One Two-Wu” precinct that most Wu-Tang Clan members hail from, but that just furthers the stereo type of profiling, right?

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You heard of us, official Queensbridge murderers

Looking at this issue on a national scale, and taking into consideration the rash of police involved shootings that have made for juicy headlines in the last several years, it would be fair to conclude that police target minorities, or at least that is what the media leads you to believe.  This is simply not true.  Yes, there are corrupt cops who selfishly and sadly manipulate the system for monetary compensation or quite simply, they had criminal tendencies either before they took the oath, or became corrupted on the job.  Yes, there are police who probably are closet racists who use their power to bully and intimidate.  But you can say the same for teachers, politicians, lawyers, bankers, pick a profession.  There is poison in the well in any profession.  Policing is magnified because of the responsibility that comes with the job.  I like to think of Spider-Man when Uncle Ben told him “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Some people can’t handle the power that comes with graduating from police academy.  The uniform.  The gun.  The badge.  The utility belt.  Then, you hit the streets and you realize that everything you learned in the academy didn’t prepare you for shit. Herein lies the problem:  You either have “it” or you don’t. You either know the slanguage, or you don’t (you better learn it). There’s a sixth sense, that gut instinct, the “eye” which tells you that brown skinned young man who just walked past your patrol car is packing or not, or he may have a bulge with what may be dozens of vials of crack in his pocket but damn, I can’t search for drugs..what do I do? Or maybe, just maybe he’s a freakin’ regular 20 year old kid in college or working in a store and he’s visiting his friend or his Grandmother in anyhood, U.S.A. which happens to be a high crime location; police call it a “Hotspot”.  This profiling stuff can mess with your head, but again, is it profiling if the hotspot has an overwhelming makeup of minority populations in its zip code?  How can police be accused of racially profiling in this instance, which is an unfortunate reality for those living in low income communities ravaged by drug and gang violence such as the gang polluted neighborhoods in Chicago?

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Protesters confront police in Chicago, a familiar image nationally in recent years.

“Run! If you sell drugs in the school zone / Run! If you getting chased with no shoes on / Run! Fuck that! Run! Cops got, guns!”

Ghostface Killah: “Run”

If you are in a gang and are puttin’ in work for your set, or your block, or your colors, or whatever the hell you are reppin’ in your twisted mind, then you cannot accuse police of hating or profiling you because you are behaving like a menace to society.  If you are hustling anywhere on the corner of your block, or out of your building lobby, in front of the bodega or the Chinese take-out, or as Tone Starks so eloquently rapped about selling drugs in a school zone, you better run when you see the D’s creepin’ or the uniforms pull up, but you cannot rationalize with a sane frame of mind that the police are hating or profiling because you as the individual are actively engaging in illegal criminal behavior. I know, police are the biggest haters in the world. Here are a few of the greatest quotes I can recall during some street encounters from my time working in the South Bronx: “You tryin’a stop my stacks!”, “You just mad cause I make more than you” (so unoriginal and boring), “Why you on my dick? Homo ass cops always wanna touch a nigga”, “Why you stopping me? I ain’t do nothin’!, Go stop rapists and killers!“, and my all time favorite: “I bet you I’ll fuck you up if you ain’t have that gun and badge” to which my response was “Word?”, while I removed my gun belt and handed it off to my partner and proceeded to throw the hands with Mr. Former Braveheart turned Shook One.  To me, that was ultimate community policing, albeit, a way out of bounds option but I chose to police the streets with an outside of the box mindset.  The streets need to take responsibility and stop blaming everyone and everything else, especially the police, for the route they choose.  You can make it out.  Yes, the hood is treacherous, but you can walk a noble route if you choose to do so. Crime causation is based on many factors.  Don’t fall into the same ill habits that doom so many others and leads toward recidivism and probation visits.  Police can also do better. Training should focus more on community policing ,building relationships, and avoiding the dreaded slippery slope.  There is nothing more counterproductive than a society which is practically raising their children to fear police rather than respect them.  Think about that.

Perhaps the reason why police in Chicago are seemingly so hands off and letting the urban communities drown in gang violence is due to a graphic police involved shooting from a few years ago involving an unhinged teen armed with a knife, and the inevitable protests and sometimes violent demonstrations that followed.  These incidents sadly become more political due to those in government office suddenly playing defense, washing their hands clean of any bloody fallout that may stain their reelections or halt their political ascension.  What happens is the communities and the police agencies continue to share the same shit sandwich from different angles, but it still tastes like shit.  The same finger pointing cycle of cops and robbers with some innocent lives caught in the crossfire, becoming headlines and clickbait for juicy fuck the police headlines (The Media and Policing will be covered more in depth in Part Four of this series).  I’m not a police expert, and I’m not a ‘hood star either.  But I know a little bit of both worlds.  The ‘hood is always going to hate the police, and the Blue Wall of Silence will never (or rarely, word to whistleblowers) break.  So what can we do?  Better.  We can do better.

Did you come to see the show? / Or to the stupid nigga playoffs? / Killin’ you and killin’ me / It’s the soliloquy of chaos

Guru of Gang Starr: “Soliloquy of Chaos”

 

******Part Two: Streets is Watching coming soon….follow me for monthly articles from a cutting edge perspective on a variety of topics******

JF thesixthboroblog

The Myth of the “G” Code: Snitches, Police & The Hood

“There’s a war going on outside no man is safe from..”

Prodigy of Mobb Deep

Prodigy was spot on when he rhymed what is one of the most memorable opening lines ever on a rap song back in 1995.  New York’s five boroughs were staggered by high crime rates from the usual suspect in the form of drugs and all of the crime that it fathers.   The Bronx, Brooklyn, parts of Manhattan and sections of Queens were war zones.  Drug crews and stick up kids were plying their criminal trade with total disregard for police, until “Giuliani Time” began in the late 90’s for better or worse depending on who’s waxing poetic.  It was survival of the fittest indeed but despite New York City in the midst of historic low crime rates over 20 plus years since Prodigy spit his unforgettable verse from the classic The Infamous album, there’s still a war going on outside.  Its in the predominately black and brown neighborhoods of the outer boroughs.  The war never stopped in most of the Bronx or in huge swaths of the County of Kings.  Ditto for Jamaica Queens and Queensbridge.  The war never stopped in parts of Harlem from the west side to Spanish Harlem on the east side.  The Lower East Side still has pockets of crime.  I can go on and on.  But Prodigy stressed that no man is safe in the streets.  That shouldn’t apply to a kid.  A 15-year-old boy who had dreams of joining the NYPD.  The war came for innocent Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz on a summer night last week in June in the Bronx, and there is rage in the streets over this shocking crime.

Apparently enraged over a sex tape circulating on social media because this seems to be where beef is ignited these days, alleged gang members from the Trinitarios set upon Guzman-Feliz who was hiding for his life inside a Bodega on E. 183rd Street & Bathgate Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx.  He was horrifically murdered, hacked and stabbed repeatedly by 5 grown men armed with Machetes and knives in a crime caught on surveillance video from the Bodega, which in turn was circulated on social media sites because, of course. Several cell phone videos captured the mortally wounded kid staggering across the street attempting to save himself by running to nearby St. Barnabus hospital just 2 blocks away.  Guzman-Feliz died just outside of the emergency room.  Police have since made public that he was a victim of mistaken identity, and are asking the public to help identify his 5 killers.  This is where the “G” Code enters the discussion.

Depending on who you ask, the mythical G in the G Code stands for either “gangster” (Gangsta for the Hip Hop heads and the streets), “game”, or “gentleman’s” code.  It is an untraceable, unwritten rule of absurdity akin to Baseball’s unwritten rules of their sport which are totally ridiculous in their profession.  Rap and the streets are infinitely linked because rap was birthed in the streets, therefore when rappers who sometimes are unaware of the vast reaches of their influence, rhyme about the consequences and dangers of snitching along with a history’s worth of anti-police sentiment, when a crime such as this one hits home, there is misdirected outrage.  Incredibly, people are hammering the NYPD for not doing anything to save poor Lesandro’s life.  This is not a pro police rant.  This is not what I am writing here.  Take a look at the what is going on for a minute here:  Surveillance video clearly captures 5 men assaulting Lesandro and then he attempts to run for his life to the hospital.  Ask yourself, could anyone have stopped in their cars or even walking in the street to attempt to save his life?  Instead, what we see is a few cell phone footage videos that people figured were more important than themselves actually calling 911 with those same cell phones or trying to stop Lesandro from bleeding to death.  People recording the police who at the scene are making notifications and frantically attempting to get information are being yelled at by other people recording them telling the police they are doing nothing to save him.  This is the world we live in today.

In the aftermath of the horrific murder of Lesandro, police are working “tons” of leads regarding the suspects.  Is that snitching?  Is this violating the Gangsta Code? I saw an Instagram post in which it was stated that although tragic, this happens in the hood everyday, and the streets should be quiet and let the police do their job.  This statement made my head spin.  I agree that this does happen too much in the streets of New York although Mayor deBlasio will have you believe otherwise because you know, New York City is the safest big city in the country, but if this crime does not once and for all put the ridiculous “G” Code to sleep, all hope is lost.

I reached out to an old acquaintance of mine who still dabbles in and out of street activities.  I asked him specifically about this crime and if he would give a statement to police if they questioned him about it.  His response? “Fuck yeah.  That was a kid from the block who was a good kid.  The rules of the streets are no kids or women unless the women are involved in activity.  Kids are off-limits”. I pressed him about snitching if he gave a statement to the cops.  His response: “There is no code of the streets.  Niggas is always snitching to save themselves anyway.  Always looking to cut a deal and shit.  No loyalty out here.  There’s levels of snitching.  The foul dude who is raping and shit like that? Fuck him.  Tell on his ass.  Ya man that is hustling on the corner?  I ain’t saying shit to the cops”.  His words.

So is calling the police tips hotline giving information for Lesandro’s cruel murder snitching?  I don’t think so.  As of this writing, there has still been no statement from the Mayor’s office regarding this crime.  Why? Because it happened in the Bronx that’s why.  Because it involved Dominicans and who cares about Dominicans killing each other right?  Because it happened in front of a Bodega, a staple in the hood right?  Because it didn’t involve a cop shooting a black kid so there is no media grab for headlines.

“New York got a nigga depressed, so I wear slug proof underneath my Guess..”

Prodigy of Mobb Deep from Survival of the Fittest

God knows what was going through Lesandro’s head when he was being dragged by his hoodie from the Bodega on to the sidewalk where he would be savagely hacked to death.  In this instance, a video that made the social media rounds can be a gift to investigators scrambling to apprehend suspects, but it could be divisive for the public, most of whom have valid anti-police sentiments.  Leasndro was a member of the NYPD’s Explorer’s program which is for youth who are interested in a career in law enforcement.  The NYPD is taking this crime personally as they should.  Not just because Lesandro was a good kid with dreams of becoming one of their own, but because of the sheer brutality of a crime caught on video.  So forget the Gangsta/Game/Gentleman’s Code and everything it stands for.  If you see something, say something.  The whole world can see this.  It’s on video.  Prodigy told you 23 years ago there’s a war going on outside no man is safe from.  Today, not even kids are safe.

 

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