I got some flak for posting about a police officer who shot a dog in a Chicago neighborhood yesterday, mostly along the lines of how not all police are bad and people who break the law should be punished, two sentiments I would never disagree with. On the other hand, I don’t believe that any profession is exempt from scrutiny, even the most noble ones. Especially the most noble ones. Sorry, but also, not very sorry.
That’s why I’m following that post up with this one, because the New York City police officer who allegedly placed a seven-month-old pregnant woman in a chokehold for illegally grilling outside of her apartment deserves to be put on blast.
I say allegedly with an eyebrow raised because there are pictures of the incident, which you can see over at New York Daily News.
Rosan Miller, 27, alegedly assaulted an officer when he tried to arrest Miller’s husband, Moses, for refusing to give the officer his ID after being accused of grilling on the sidewalk outside of their apartment. She allegedly slapped him in an attempt to keep the arrest from taking place.
What Rosan Miller did was against the law, and she was facing arrest too, which she resisted. That’s when the officer attempted to place the seven month pregnant woman in a chokehold.
Chokeholds are prohibited within the NYPD and have come under scrutiny again following the death of Eric Garner, in an unrelated incident.
I am sure that many people will say, with righteous indignation, that this woman and her husband broke the law, first by grilling and then by resisting. That’s true.
Again, however, I am left wondering why this wasn’t handled differently? Is a pregnant woman so difficult to restrain? At seven months all you had to do was blow on my forehead and I’d fall over. And to be completely honest, if someone tried to put me in a hold when I was pregnant, I’d probably flip out too and slap at them wildly out of sheer panic. It wouldn’t matter if they was Officer Friendly or the Pope himself.
If you break the law, you should be punished. I do believe that. I also believe that the punishment should fit the crime, and that it’s the responsibility of the people who enforce the law to know how to do that without injuring or killing someone if their life is not in immediate danger. On top of that, I don’t think the people who collect their salaries from the tax contributions of all members of society should be so precious as to refer to the people they arrest with the n-word, or any other slurs, as one of the arresting officers in this case allegedly did.
I don’t say that because I have a secret anti-cop agenda. I say that because I want people to give cops a little more credit. I’ve befriended a few officers of the law in my lifetime, and they were all highly trained, highly ethical individuals. Can we stop pretending as though cops as a whole are infallible because they have no other choice, when a citizen gets belligerent or rowdy or resistant, than to choke them or pull out a gun?
That’s really insulting to the ones that do their job ethically and seriously.
Can we also, for one moment, remember that this whole thing started over a man grilling? Do you think that would have been anything more than a warning in a higher-income neighborhood? I’m not endorsing a violent reaction, but I’m not surprised either.
When you disproportionately make one group of people the subject of increasingly violent arrests and handle them with all of the care of a dirty dishrag, do you really expect them to trust you and treat you with deference, even as you’re hurling slurs at them?
I’ll end with the sentiment of Charles Barron, former NYC councilman, who also weighed in on the incident:
“‘I don’t care what anyone says, there is a powder keg in this town’ the fiery ex-pol said, suggesting those ‘harassed’ by police may begin to react violently. ‘Don’t blame me, the social forecaster, when there is an explosion in this town.’”