Early last September, before Occupy Wall Street was even a glint of pepper spray in an obstinate protester's eye, the NYPD were mobilizing against another crowd menace: the West Indian American Day Parade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Sure, some officers were spotted getting into the spirit by grinding against paradegoers' behinds, but a far greater number were bracing for the mayhem that frequently accompanies the debauched annual event. This year's parade was particularly violent — there were multiple shootings, resulting in one civilian fatality and an officer wounded in his arm. In the days that followed, New York cops had had enough, and they created a Facebook group to vent their anger. It was extremely racist.
The group was called "No More West Indian Day Detail," and it's no longer up — but lawyers defending a man on trial for illegal gun possession discovered it, and found it useful to their case. They printed all 70 pages of it, and, after it failed to produce much of a reaction in court, provided a copy to The New York Times.
As the Times describes it, the group quickly grew to 1,200 members, many of whom posted under their real names. Some used language to refer to West Indians and Africa-Americans that was "so offensive," that others warned them to tone it down or they could find themselves the target of an investigation by Internal Affairs "rats."
Some of the comments:
- An observation that the parade should be "moved to the zoo."
- A description of parade detail as "ghetto training"
- "Let them kill each other," one officer wrote.
- "Filth," was a comment attributed to Nick Virgilio, a name the Times says "matches that of a police officer." Another responded: "It's not racist if it's true."
- "Welcome to the Liberal NYC Gale, where if the cops sneeze too loud they get investigated for excessive force but the ‘civilians' can run around like savages and there are no repercussions."
- "'They can keep the forced overtime,' said one writer, adding that the safety of officers 'come before the animals.'"
- "'I say have the parade one more year,' wrote a commenter who identified himself as Dan Rodney, 'and when they all gather drop a bomb and wipe them all out.'"
The Times approached a Dan Rodney, who confirmed he was in the NYPD and has infrequently used Facebook in the past, but says he never left that comment himself.
"That wasn't me," he said before suggesting that someone else might have been responsible. "I leave my phone around sometimes. Other than that I have no comment."
As one "No More West Indian Day Detail" commenter correctly predicted, the pages have indeed been forwarded to the rats of the Internal Affairs Bureau, and are currently under review. All in all, it has not been a banner year for citizen-officer relations in the greater five boroughs. We suggest expanding the photo above to its glorious full size, and reminiscing about happier times between the two. [NYT, Photo via Getty]