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Dogs, Wolves, and Mutts

February 4, 2018

Is it racist when police call a violent criminal an “animal”? What about a “mutt"?

Does this racism charge reflect a special sensitivity among some black New Yorkers in a city where most violent crimes are committed by young black men?

Or does it reflect the lack of sensitivity among police towards the concerns of black New Yorkers?

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialThis latest outburst in our racially fractured burg began a few weeks ago after Judge Ruth Shillingford [black] sentenced 16-year-old Justin Murrell [black] to a four-year prison sentence after he dragged Det. Dalsh Veve [black] in a stolen car. Veve suffered brain injuries and is in a wheelchair, probably for the rest of his life.

Furious that Shillingford had given Murrell the minimum instead of a maximum ten, PBA president Pat Lynch [white] went on a tirade, repeatedly calling Murrell a “mutt.”

That prompted the normally nuanced NY1 politics anchor Errol Louis [black] to describe Lynch as “howling in rage.” He then called Lynch one of a number of “arrogant men in power [who] take it upon themselves to dehumanize and denigrate their fellow New Yorkers, especially the city’s [sic] children.” He added, “It’s never right and never appropriate to call people dogs.”

New York Times reporter Ashley Southall [black] then suggested something Louis hinted at but never stated: that Lynch’s use of the word “mutt” was racist.

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittSouthall provided a definition of “mutt,” which “conventionally refers to mixed-breed dogs [and] is commonly used as a pejorative towards people of mixed racial descent.” It’s unclear where “mixed racial descent” comes from. Webster’s Third International Dictionary defines “mutt” merely as “a mongrel dog,” or “a stupid or commonplace person.”

Your Humble Servant has been around the NYPD a few years and has often heard the word “mutt” used to describe low-level criminals of any race, along with synonyms like skell, mope, perp, and dirtbag.

Department spokesman Pat Conry described these words as “equal-opportunity pejoratives.”

Southall also called out Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins [white], who recently called the actions of Detroit Lions football player Trevor Bates [black] “beyond that of a wild animal.”

Police said Bates had refused to pay a $32 taxi fare from Manhattan to his hotel near LaGuardia Airport and when questioned by police at the 115th Precinct allegedly slugged Sgt. James O’Brien [presumably white] in the face. Police say O’Brien suffered a concussion.

Hey, but what about Louis’s description of Lynch as "howling in rage"? Is Louis dehumanizing Lynch by comparing him to a wolf? Or maybe a dog? A mutt?

MORE NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING TALK. Leave it to Mayor Bill de Blasio to open his yap about a subject he apparently knows very little — in this case offering a gratuitous and irrelevant news release about his pet project that supposedly brings the police and neighborhood folk together: neighborhood policing.

The occasion: Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill’s announcement last Friday at Police Plaza — with de Blasio absent — that he was accepting the recommendations of a three-person panel that called for greater accountability and transparency in the NYPD’s disciplinary process.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialO’Neill called the panel’s report “a candid and honest assessment of the disciplinary system.” Unless we missed it, there was no mention of neighborhood policing.

The mayor then released his own statement. “Neighborhood policing has helped to make New York the safest big city in America. Central to that success are transparency and accountability in the relationship between our police officers and the communities they serve and protect.”

Too bad the mayor didn’t attend Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark’s news conference last week. He might have learned something about neighborhood policing’s limits.

With Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan at her side, Clark announced the arrests of 15 gang members in the high-crime area of East 167th to East 170th Streets and between Morris and Clay Avenues.

She explained that the greatest difficulty in making cases against these gangbangers was the neighborhood code of “not snitching” to the police. Fearing gangbanger retaliation, people are afraid to come forward with information, she said.

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