Friday, May 8, 2015





(Friday May 8, 2015, NYC) The sun has yet to show its face on the eastern horizon while at this early hour members of the NYPD are taking their dress blues out of closets after having made sure their white gloves were clean and pressed. They will don the official uniform of their Department and travel out to Long Island to pay their respects to Brian Moore, one of their own.  Many will report to their regular Precincts and Commands and after roll call pile into a Department car or van and make the drive out to Seaford.  They will make that trek in solemn silence with heavy hearts fully cognizant of the fact that “but for the Grace of God there go I”.  They will assemble in military precision as the coffin bearing the body of Police Officer Brian Moore is removed from the church and placed on a hearse for that slow ride to the cemetery plot in which he will be interred.  The ranks of the dress blues and other uniforms representing Police Departments and Law Enforcement Agencies from across the country will stand as one as the Moore family lays their young son to rest.  The haunting sounds of the bagpipes will sound across the expanse of the cemetery and it will be difficult for most in attendance to not shed a tear.  When one of NYPD’s own is killed in the line of duty every member feels that profound gut punch sensation. Every MOS, present and past, experiences the most visceral of reactions as they are forced to confront the stark reality of their chosen profession.  Death, the prospect of unnatural violent death at the hands of a depraved, heartless soul, or just a criminal without regard for life, looms as the outsized presence in the corridors of each Cops soul.  The ever present possibility, the omnipresent potential is kept at bay by whatever intrinsic or contrived, largely un- and sub- conscious machinations that each individual possesses.  Days such as today render, at least for a few hours, all such defensive mental gymnastics futile and foolish.  Mourning and grief, grief that literally claims raw tissue of every MOS’s soul, is never absorbed or forgotten.  It lingers on the periphery of dreams and idle waking moments.  Such thoughts elicit doubts, fundamental doubts as to cause, mission and purpose.  For the men and women of NYPD the murder of a Brother or Sister is as wrenching as the loss of a parent.

Working out of the 105th Precinct in Queens, Police Officer Brian Moore was engaged in a plains clothes patrol similar to one he had previously been commended and decorated for when he arrested an assailant with a an illegal firearm.  When he and his partner approached a man they had witnessed adjusting something along his waistband they pulled their unmarked car alongside of him. They asked him what he was carrying on his waist and he immediately opened fire shooting PO Moore in the face resulting in a lethal injury that would ultimately claim his life a few days later.  Could his tragic untimely death have been prevented?  Given the dynamics of those critical moments, absolutely not.  He was involved in an abundantly hazardous detail that was infused with a level of risk that is difficult to quantify or adequately explain to the average citizen – to any outsider.  Despite the recent crescendos of protest and brutal, grossly inaccurate criticism against Police Officers in the wake of several media hyped episodes of questionable Police tactics, men and women of good character and faith put themselves out onto the often ill-defined frontier and the always hazardous front line of keeping order and protecting those who cannot protect themselves.  Their task is often uncomfortable and untidy through the digital lenses of the increased preponderance of cell phone cameras.  In our open democratic society such scrutiny is the Constitutional right and sacred legal prerogative of any and every bystander and witness.  But the advanced technology readily available to anyone who can afford to purchase such a device does not have the sophistication to provide context.  Any image or video clip can be damming untethered to the scenario that unfolded prior to the moment such a camera was aimed in that certain direction.

Today is not the day for political discussions or examination of the larger issue regarding LEA interactions with minority communities.  That debate will rage, it will wax and wane as the case against the six Baltimore Officers who are facing charges from recklessness to depraved heart murder.  Today is a day to push all that reeking baggage aside and each Officer must come to terms with the realities of his or her chosen profession.  The unity shown today as thousands of LEA’s from across the country came here to pay their respects is powerful demonstration of the unity among members of the LEC.

At times such as this politicians and columnists like to comment that the entire City of New York grieves along with the NYPD family.  That is simply not only untrue but literally impossible.  Yes, the average citizen might read of the Line of Duty death of an Officer and feel sympathy for his or her family; they may even say a prayer or, at least for a few moments, consider the inherent perils of policing in our City. But they cannot mourn along with the Members of Service and their immediate families because they are not privy to the hundreds, the thousands of daily triumphs and tragedies every Police Officer experiences during their career.  They do not know the anxiety a spouse experiences when the phone rings in the small hours of the morning fearing the call will bring unwanted news of their spouse’s injury or death.  They cannot and do not know the City as an MOS does; they are blissfully unaware of what transpires each day and night across our Five Boroughs.  They do not see, feel or taste what a street Cop does; they have no inkling of the particulars of policing, of the use of force born out of situational necessity that is potentially an element of each and every call they respond to.  No, they are pedestrian bystanders as unfamiliar with the City Cops know as they are with the surface of the moon.

Brian Moore’s name will be added to the list of MOS’s who have been killed in the line of duty; it will be added to the NYPD Memorial Wall at One Police Plaza.  The City has already moved on after absorbing the news of Officer Moore’s death but for the Moore family and the NYPD family his passing will forever be remembered, honored, and respected. Rest in peace young Officer, you are safely Home now.  Amen.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015





Protestors looting a liquor store in West Baltimore Monday afternoon






(Wednesday May 6, 2015 Baltimore, MD)  The garden variety cynic’s reaction to the tumult in Baltimore after an unarmed young African American man died in police custody was as familiar as it was predictable.  The images and hyperbolic rhetoric broadcast into TV sets across the land showed live images that were sadly similar to those seen from inner cities roiling with racial unrest during the 1960’s.  While the rampant social disorder and civil unrest of the 1960’s was but one aspect of a much broader and very important “movement” for “racial equality”, the rioting and looting in Baltimore served only to reinforce the cynic’s cynicism.  Many in “White” America saw the televised imagery as merely further reinforcing their already lowly regard of inner city “Blacks”.  They were disgusted by the destruction of property, arson, wanton looting of liquor stores and other businesses by opportunistic aimless Blacks ready to commit such deeds at the drop of a hat.  The average cynic had no sympathy for the Blacks and, if anything found themselves asking the same questions they have asked of themselves, their families and of each other every time such a flare-up of urban discord holds the broadcast and cable newsertainment networks hostage.

The disgust voiced by much of White Middle America was as also predictable as it was relevant.  What more could the “country” do for Blacks?  Why don’t these people get jobs and put away this tired argument that 400 years of “oppression” has created the problems endemic in Black America?  How does arson and stealing comport with their arguments about years of police abuse, misconduct and unacceptable murder?  Whose fault is it if Black men have many children with different women and have no responsibility for those children financially or familiarly?  Whose fault is it that young Black men do not finish high school, wear their pants sagging around their knees, underwear visible, caps on their heads backwards, sporting tattoos yet protesting their inability to secure jobs?  The list of questions of this sort is long.  Who is at fault for what ails huge swathes of the Black community in cities and towns from coast to coast and all points in between?

The White cynics bristle at the notion that the Black “experience” in America – slavery – has any relevance in today’s society.  The federal government has spent approximately 22 trillion dollars since 1964 (give or take a billion or two either way) and the states have spent untold trillions more on every sort of law, legislation, protection, initiative, program and social device aimed specifically at improving the prospects for Black Americans.  The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 were just the very beginning and were actually landmark legislative measures that codified that the most basic of American rights be available to Blacks without regard to color.  There were the vast urban renewal and “Great Society” projects and programs of the late 60’s; there were government assistance programs of every sort as well intended attempts to socially engineer change and all that backfired in hindsight.   That much of Black America remains mired in the same muck they have been in since prior to all the federal government’s attempts to help lift them out is certainly not for lack of effort.  The cynic asks what the hell is wrong with these people?  Don’t they get it? 

For Americans beholden to the politics of the Left and Right, their reactions were also unabashedly familiar and predictable almost to the point of idiocy.  The Liberal Left blames the Conservative Right for all the racial inequities while the Right blames liberal progressive politics and policies for all that ails Blacks in America, especially in an inner city urban center such as Baltimore that has been governed by African Americans for almost the totality of the last 40 years.  The pragmatists among us see the nuances and gradations in the middle ground between the polar opposite Left/Right rift but have no meaningful answers or suggestions; they admit to their frustration for finding themselves at a loss.

One of the absolutes that all can agree on is that race relations remain a seemingly intractable reality of America in 2015, the seventh year, of the Presidency of our first African American Chief Executive, Barak Obama.  Oddly (or not) it feels as if race relations, the “Black and White” issue has become even more pronounced during President Obama’s administration.  It many ways it has.  His ascendancy from relative freshman senatorial obscurity to the White House seemed to bring out the worst in people on either side of the divide.  While much of Black America may have viewed his election and reelection as the harbinger of a “post racial America”, his Presidency only served to unleash some of the most sordid, vitriolic racial animus and prejudice among those already possessed of that mindset. 

And then there are the Police; the Law Enforcement Community (LEC) writ large suddenly emerging before the previously blind eyes of White America as the dirty not-so-little secret that Black America has known since the days of Jim Crow; that the LEC systematical practices severe racism, stands for racial segregation, and can run roughshod over the civil rights of Black Americans with impunity.  And, from that equation it becomes a heated debate with no winners about what came first, the chicken or the egg; high crime rates in Black communities or racist Cops doing what they please.  Are the police more active in the neighborhoods that are predominantly Black because Black’s commit more crime or are Black’s indiscriminately and disproportionally interacting with overzealous Police Officers who “do not value” Black lives? 

There are absolutists and apologists on both sides of that particular debate and a wealth of academic, empiric, scholarly, and antidotal data to support either side. However there is a puzzling paucity of actual numbers to support either argument or, most of the statistics bandied about range from grossly inaccurate to dangerously skewed. The inherent malleability of statistics and other research related data casts shadows of doubts on all such information and essentially renders it useless in the debate and in the process of finding common ground.  Common ground is what everyone claims to be seeking now; a “national dialogue” is being called for by ivory tower and TV talking head; “Professional Blacks” just as the law and order crowd insists the crux of the issue and all its obvious problems are simple matters of right and wrong; of abiding by the laws of the land and blatant criminality.  Yeah, a “dialogue” would definitely help bridge that gap.  (Between who is such a “dialogue” supposed to take place?) 

The fools among us would deny the existence of any problem; it is a matter of disproportional numbers of Blacks being criminals, responsible for high crime rates when compared to other demographics, and the Police comprising that “Thin Blue Line” of defense between order and chaos all too eager to mete out street justice to young Black boys and men, employ racial profiling, and arrest Blacks for similar crimes far more often than they do White boys and men.  Maybe the fools have a point but not in this exact ideological dichotomy.  There are distinct flaws in perception on both sides and it is easier to find affiliation with one side or the other because it does not require any examination of one’s existing core beliefs in such matters.  At least the fools admit to the near impossibility of having an honest, open debate because any critique of the Black community from White people is just one degree or another of racism and any criticism leveled against the Police by Black America is just so much tired blaming for their own inability to take personal responsibility and goes no further than to obscure the reality on the ground in places like Baltimore.

The moderates and pragmatists, as few and far between they might be, are left dumbfounded by the realities of urban America and the Black communities therein.  They look back over the years beginning in 1954 with the landmark “Brown v. The Board of Education” Supreme Court ruling that mandated schools to be integrated; it specifically forbade segregation in schools for basic kindergarten through high school.  This resulted, in some places and often violently, to the “busing” of White students into predominately Black schools and Black students into majority White schools. Then there have been Affirmative Action initiatives at every level of society; in virtually every aspect and institution from the realm of higher education to employment, housing, and other socioeconomic access.  There have been quota systems, preferential hiring practices, the alteration of requirements for certain jobs because there have been arguments that many standardized tests necessary for hiring into some jobs are intrinsically biased, they are tests and standards written and set by White people for White people. 

The fact of the matter is that there will never be appreciable, sustainable changes in the segment of Black urban America that is most disenfranchised unless it comes from within that community.  The White poor, the counterparts to the Black urban dwellers are largely dispersed in rural and semirural communities, suffer from the very same ills as do their Black counterparts facing problems such as drug addiction, violence, lack of proper health care, unwed mothers, and all the rest of that sad and sorry list of blights that the federal government has sought to address over the years.  One significant difference between the White and Black poor is that the Blacks tend to be concentrated in pockets of urban America where the population density obscures the true identity of that community.  Living in these often rough, tough neighborhoods are a majority of hard working, law abiding citizen with the same aspirations and goals as their White counterparts.  They parent well, emphasize the importance of education and teach their children the countless other life lessons that can only be provided by a parent.

Unfortunately, in poor communities regardless of color or race, there is a preponderance of young single mothers often essentially abandoned by the child’s biological father.  This perpetuates the reliance on public assistance that can become a repetitive cycle of children having children, of boys and men failing to take any responsibility financially or otherwise.  Children born into such circumstances are already severely disadvantaged. 

But this is not about poor people; this is about that segment of the inner city Black population that appears to align with a value system dramatically different from their White counterparts.  It is obvious in their music, style of dress, attitudes and actions.  They seem to take measures to further alienate themselves from the very same entry points into the working class they claim they seek.  They exhibit an incongruous tendency towards outward symbols and overt trappings of financial means and will opt to live in squalor so as to afford a fancy car, jewelry, and stylish cloths.  The ghettos are loaded with young men loitering donning $150 “Air Jordan’s”, carrying smart phones and iPods, wearing the clothing that represents “urban chic” today.  Ask any Cop Firemen or EMT who has worked in a ghetto neighborhood and they will recount countless stories of going into squalid apartments, housing underfed children, with virtually empty cupboards and refrigerator but a big 42” hi-def TV dominating the chaos of the living room.  This is so commonplace that it barely registers in the minds of those who enter these dwellings responding to emergencies of every variety. First responders are often left asking, where does the money for such luxuries come from?  Sometimes from the hard working women in their lives who often hold menial jobs,, receive public assistance or a combination of the two.  Sometimes criminal activity provides a “living” or, at least, an income stream.  But it is that odd need to display and portray oneself as having money that further exacerbates already strained household incomes.

Some reading these observations and statements will recoil and call foul; they’ll see racism embedded in each sentence and therein exists the core of the issues posing as a formidable obstacle.  In order to have any discussion, let alone a debate or dialogue of substance, we have to agree on language, on terminology.  A phrase recently inserted into the public discourse about race relations is “White privilege”.  It is interesting to note that that phrase is acceptable while any mention of Black disgruntlement or Black self-exclusion are taken as derogatory terms imbued with dirty racist overtones.  But let us at least be honest.  The gulf between Black America and White America in our inner cities and elsewhere is as profound, but not as overt, as it had been as recently as the 1970’s when the first full efforts of affirmative action became evident across all societal institutions. 

Today there is a Black middle class and no societal or professional boundaries present as glass ceilings.  The problems remain in that smallest fraction of inner city dwellers and the self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and all its malignant manifestations.  Black America must look within and find their way guided by their own direction.  There is no more the federal government, or government at any level, can do for them.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2015 © All Rights Reserved