For any significant change to American policing to occur, we have to
deal with upend police unions, which wield extraordinary power and influence.
Most times, police unions support their officers unconditionally, even when it’s more than obvious that police are in the wrong; they also tend to disparage victims of police brutality, as well as a plethora of other deplorable acts.
Last September, for instance, the president of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police, John McNesby, called one of his officers’ Nazi tattoos “not a big deal.”
And at a Back the Blue rally last week to protest Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s new policy of releasing the names of officers who shoot anyone while on duty, McNesby showed his support of an officer who fatally shot a 20-year-old black man in the back, calling those who protested that killing “a pack of rabid animals.”
HuffPost Black Voices reports that the officer in that case, Ryan Pownall, fatally shot David Jones, who ran from a traffic stop on June 8. This marks the second time Pownall has shot a black man in the back as he was fleeing. In 2010 he shot Carnell Williams-Carney, who ran from cops while having an illegal gun on him.
Williams-Carney is now paralyzed. Jones is dead.
After some Black Lives Matter activists exercised their First Amendment right to protest the continued employment of a cop who was obviously, at best, poorly trained, McNesby continued to rally behind him.
On Thursday, McNesby called Black Lives Matter protesters “animals.” As those who study the importance of language know, designating others subhuman is the first step in having no remorse for cutting them down in cold blood.
“When you go to work each day, you shouldn’t have to worry that a pack of rabid animals will suddenly show up at your home and openly threaten your family,” said McNesby. “These are not activists; they are racist hate groups determined to instigate violence.”
Oh, and about that officer who had the Nazi tattoo—obviously not an animal in McNesby’s mind.
According to another HuffPost report, last September, Officer Ian Hans Lichtermann was caught on social media with what looked to be part of the official insignia of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party on his arm: an eagle with outstretched wings, topped by the word “Fatherland.”
Other fun facts: In 2010, Lichtermann’s name showed up in a hacked database of visitors to neo-Nazi and white supremacist websites, and research by the anti-fascist website Philly Antifa shows photos of Lichtermann dressing up as a Nazi to participate in historical reenactments.
Of this guy, McNesby said, “I’ve seen [the tattoo photo]. It’s an eagle. Not a big deal.”
Mayor Kenney, however, called the tattoo “deeply offensive.”
By the way, that officer—the Nazi—is still policing the streets of Philadelphia, as is the guy who shot two people in the back.
Read more at HuffPost Black Voices.