James Frascatore, the undercover police officer who had complaints and lawsuits trailing him like toilet paper on an abusive boot, is now the face of the “bad” cop.
After all, he went for the body, the livelihood, of a former tennis pro with no warning in broad daylight on a crowded midtown street. James Blake is within bounds to call for Frascatore’s job.
Can you imagine what NYPD officers like Frascatore do when nobody’s looking? Blake apparently gets it, noting that his celebrity status offers him a voice that many others don’t have.
When Officer Daniel Pantaleo, with his own complaints and suits trailing him, held Eric Garner in an NYPD-banned chokehold last year, it took Garner’s death to get the city to concede that something was wrong.
Others aren’t as lucky as Blake. Many of my neighbors in Spanish Harlem have been abused and disrespected by the NYPD with no media attention. It’s a soul-crunching but often routine part of life in poor communities of color.
Last year in Sunset Park, cops from the 72nd Precinct slammed a pregnant immigrant woman belly-first to the ground. She and her family did what they were supposed to do, lawyering up and speaking out. The Civilian Complaint Review Board recommended a few lost vacation days for the cop involved.
CCRB head Richard Emery, an old friend and lawyer of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton whose son works for the police department, has done virtually nothing to try to rein in the NYPD. Emery has even said publicly that he prefers Bratton have final say over discipline. The head of a toothless agency wants no teeth.
Frascatore won’t be fired anytime soon. Pantaleo himself is still on the NYPD payroll 14 months after Ramsey Orta filmed him choking Garner. The city won’t budge on broken-windows policing. How about firing Bratton if he doesn’t get his department to respect the communities it serves?
Mr. Blake, I hope you push this police department and this administration to fundamentally change the way they deal with us non-celebrity folks. Perhaps your voice can amplify the voices of grassroots activists who have been pushing for change for what seems like many lifetimes.
Josmar Trujillo is a trainer, writer and activist with the Coalition to End Broken Windows.