- Mike O’Meara, the president of the New York Police Benevolent Association, slammed legislators and reporters Tuesday for “vilifying” police officers.
- He pleaded with the public to stop treating officers like animals and thugs, demanding respect instead, among other remarks.
- Many noted that this is exactly how Black people have been treated for centuries and pointed to videos of police using excessive force against peaceful protesters.
- Others criticized the fact that white male officers were on display at the press conference when departments like the NYPD are actually much more diverse.
Comments Made at Press Conference
New York Police Benevolence Association President Mike O’Meara sparked outrage Tuesday after demanding that the public treat officers with more respect.
For more than two weeks now, people all around the world have been calling for justice over the killing of George Floyd. However, his death has also sparked larger conversations about systemic racism, police brutality, and the policies that protect officers. Because of this, public outrage against authorities has drastically increased, with many calling to defund or abolish the police, and people using phrases like “All Cops Are Bastards.”
Well, it seems like some officers in New York have had enough. On Tuesday, officials from 21 law enforcement unions held a press conference condemning what they called an “anti-police environment.”
But some of the most viral comments from that conference came from O’Meara, who started off by saying there are over 375 million interactions between officers and the public every year, which are usually met with “overwhelming positive responses.”
Despite that, he added, “I read in the papers all week, we all read in the papers, that in the black community, mothers are worried about their children getting home from school without being killed by a cop. What world are we living in? That doesn’t happen! It does not happen.”
“I am not Derek Chauvin. They are not him. He killed someone. We didn’t,” he added, referring to the officer charged with murdering Floyd after pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
“Everybody’s trying to shame us. The legislators. The press. Everybody’s trying to shame us into being embarrassed about our profession,” he continued.
“Well, You know what?” O’Meara said while holding up his badge. “This isn’t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It’s still got a shine on it, and so do theirs.”
“Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect. That’s what we’re here today to say. We’ve been left out of the conversation. We’ve been vilified. It’s disgusting.”
O’Meara went on to say that he doesn’t condone the actions of police officers in Minneapolis and added, “It’s not what we do. It’s not what police officers do.”
He closed by saying that he’s proud to be a cop and will continue to be until the day he retires.
As you can imagine, those comments were met with a ton of scrutiny from people who noted that this is how Black people have been treated for centuries. Some even pointed out that O’Meara essentially used the same exact language people of color used when talking about how they are treated.
Funny, POC could literally say the exact same thing word for word, and have been suffering from this for generations. Cry me a gd river.— Clever Pseudonym (@minimoogles) June 9, 2020
Others found his remarks frustrating given the amount of violence police used against peaceful protesters, especially within the state.
One of the most memorable incidents involved Buffalo police pushing an elderly man to the ground, which law enforcement initially described as him tripping and falling.
However, there is actually even more video evidence of police using excessive force in recent weeks. In fact, people online have been sharing a video with the audio from O’Meara’s speech placed over a supercut of those violent incidents.
It shows officers aggressively shoving protesters to the ground and one pulling someone’s face mask off to pepper spray them. It also includes several clips of officers beating people with their batons, repeatedly punching someone during an arrest, and other graphic videos.
On top of that, there was also criticism over the number of white officers on display at the press conference. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) even pointed that out in a tweet saying, “Any New Yorker can tell you that this group does not look representative of the NYPD at all. Most NYPD patrol officers are Black, Latino, or Asian American – and the overall force is about 1/5 women. So what’s going on here?“
Those claims check out based on data charts from the city’s website, which show that 53% of NYPD officers are nonwhite and 18% identify as female.
So that led some to wonder if these comments were actually representative of the entire police force. Some even called it a display of white fragility, a term used to describe the discomfort and defensiveness of a white person when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice.
Looks like white fragility to me.— Molly Beane (@HeyMollyB) June 9, 2020
O’Meara Doubles Down
Even after all the backlash, O’Meara appeared on Fox News to double down on his comments. In an interview with Martha MacCallum, he against stressed that officers like Derek Chauvin are not the majority.
“We interact with the community at a very high level,” he added. “We’re social workers, we’re marriage counselors. We do everything that everybody else fails at. So we get involved in people’s lives at a very high level. And sometimes that gets emotional and sometimes it gets dangerous and sometimes it’s a bad situation. But the overwhelming majority of police officers and their interactions with the public are positive.“
“And we can’t keep saying that the police [are] systemic racist thugs that are out there. We are not. We are not.”
Ultimately, O’Meara said that Chauvin should go to jail for the rest of his life, but he added that police need to be a part of the conversation about race relations and reforms in law enforcement.
“You want to talk about how we can do our job better? We’d love to hear it…because we want to do our job better,” he said.
“We don’t want these situations where we have these tense atmosphere. All the members of the public and the members of the police. And we want to help fix it. But nobody’s talking to us. The only thing they’re doing is throwing stones at us. And you know what?… It’s hard for us.”
Those comments have also continued to generate a lot of backlash from people who feel like police really aren’t listening and are now trying to make themselves the victims of this larger social issue.
See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Fox News) (RealClearPolitics)
Lincoln College to Close for Good After COVID and Ransomware Attack Ruin Finances
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
One of the Only Historically Black Colleges in the Midwest Goes Down
After 157 years of educating mostly Black students in Illinois, Lincoln College will close its doors for good on Friday.
The college made the announcement last month, citing financial troubles caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a ransomware attack in December.
Enrollment dropped during the pandemic and the administration had to make costly investments in technology and campus safety measures, according to a statement from the school.
A shrinking endowment put additional pressure on the college’s budget.
The ransomware attack, which the college has said originated from Iran, thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data. Systems for recruitment, retention, and fundraising were completely inoperable at a time when the administration needed them most.
In March, the college paid the ransom, which it has said amounted to less than $100,000. But according to Lincoln’s statement, subsequent projections showed enrollment shortfalls so significant the college would need a transformational donation or partnership to make it beyond the present semester.
The college put out a request for $50 million in a last-ditch effort to save itself, but no one came forward to provide it.
A GoFundMe aiming to raise $20 million for the college only collected $2,452 as of Tuesday.
Students and Employees Give a Bittersweet Goodbye
“The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” David Gerlach, the college’s president, said in a statement.
Lincoln counts nearly 1,000 enrolled students, and those who did not graduate this spring will leave the institution without degrees.
Gerlach has said that 22 colleges have worked with Lincoln to accept the remaining students, including their credits, tuition prices, and residency requirements.
“I was shocked and saddened by that news because of me being a freshman, so now I have to find someplace for me to go,” one student told WMBD News after the closure was announced.
When a group of students confronted Gerlach at his office about the closure, he responded with an emotional speech.
“I have been fighting hard to save this place,” he said. “But resources are resources. We’ve done everything we possibly could.”
On April 30, alumni were invited back to the campus to revisit the highlights of their college years before the institution closed.
On Saturday, the college held its final graduation ceremony, where over 200 students accepted their diplomas and Quentin Brackenridge performed the Lincoln Alma Mater.
Last year, 1,043 schools in the U.S. were the victim of ransomware attacks, including 26 colleges or universities, according to an analysis by Emsisoft.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Herald Review) (CNN)
U.S. Tops One Million Coronavirus Deaths, WHO Estimates 15 Million Worldwide
India’s real COVID death toll stands at about 4.7 million, ten times higher than official data, the WHO estimated.
One Million Dead
The United States officially surpassed one million coronavirus deaths Wednesday, 26 months after the first death was reported in late February of 2020.
Experts believe that figure is likely an undercount, since there are around 200,000 excess deaths, though some of those may not be COVID-related.
The figure is the equivalent of the population of San Jose, the tenth-largest city in the U.S., vanishing in just over two years. To put the magnitude in visual perspective, NECN published a graphic illustrating what one million deaths looks like.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the White House predicted between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans would die from the coronavirus in a best-case scenario.
By February 2021, over half a million Americans had died of COVID.
The coronavirus has become the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.
The pandemic’s effects go beyond its death toll. Around a quarter of a million children have lost a caregiver to the virus, including about 200,000 who lost one or both parents. Every COVID-related death leaves an estimated nine people grieving.
The virus has hit certain industries harder than others, with food and agriculture, warehouse operations and manufacturing, and transportation and construction seeing especially high death rates.
People’s mental health has also been affected, with a study in January of five Western countries including the U.S. finding that 13% of people reported symptoms of PTSD attributable to actual or potential contact with the virus.
Fifteen Million Dead
On Thursday, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly 15 million people have died from the pandemic worldwide, a dramatic revision from the 5.4 million previously reported in official statistics.
Between January 2020 and the end of last year, the WHO estimated that between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people died either due to the coronavirus directly or because of factors somehow attributed to the pandemic’s impact on health systems, such as cancer patients who were unable to seek treatment when hospitals were full of COVID patients.
Based on that range, scientists arrived at an approximate total of 14.9 million.
The new estimate shows a 13% increase in deaths than is usually expected for a two-year period.
“This may seem like just a bean-counting exercise, but having these WHO numbers is so critical to understanding how we should combat future pandemics and continue to respond to this one,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious diseases specialist at the Yale School of Public Health who was not linked to the WHO research, told the Associated Press.
Most of the deaths occurred in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
According to the WHO, India counts the most deaths by far with 4.7 million, ten times its official number.
See what others are saying: (NBC) (U.S. News and World Report) (Scientific American)
Official Says Missing Alabama Convict and Corrections Officer Had a “Special Relationship”
Authorities have also said they now believe the officer willfully helped the inmate escape.
New Information on Missing Inmate & Officer
Authorities in Alabama revealed Tuesday that Assistant Director of Corrections for Lauderdale County Vicky White, who is accused of helping a murder suspect Casey Cole White escape from jail, had a “special relationship” with the inmate.
“Investigators received information from inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center over the weekend that there was a special relationship between Director White and inmate Casey White,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton said in a statement. “That relationship has now been confirmed through our investigation by independent sources and means.”
Officials have previously said that the two are not related, despite their shared surname.
Singleton elaborated on the nature of the relationship while speaking to CNN later on Tuesday. He said it took place “outside of her normal work hours” and added that although it did not include “physical contact,” he still characterized it as “a relationship of a different nature.”
“We were told Casey White got special privileges and was treated differently while in the facility than the other inmates,” Singleton said.
Also on Tuesday, the Marshals Service issued a statement confirming that authorities believe Officer White had helped Mr. White escape. The authorities described her as a “wanted fugitive” and offered a $5,000 reward for any information on her whereabouts. Earlier this week, the Marshals Service also offered a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to Mr. White’s capture.
Singleton echoed the belief that Officer White’s actions were intentional while speaking to Good Morning America Wednesday.
“I think all of our employees and myself included were really hoping that she did not participate in this willingly. But all indications are that she absolutely did,” he said. “We’re very disappointed in that because we had the utmost trust in her as an employee and as an assistant director of corrections.”
Vicky White and Casey White were last seen leaving the Lauderdale County jail just after 9:30 a.m. Friday. The officer told other employees that she was taking the inmate to a mental health evaluation at a courthouse just down the road, and that she would be going to a medical appointment after because she was not feeling well.
Officials later said her actions violated an official policy that required two sworn deputies to transport people with murder charges. In 2020, Mr. White was charged with two counts of capital murder in connection to a fatal stabbing he confessed to and was awaiting his trial in Lauderdale County.
Mr. White was also serving time for what officials said was a “crime spree” in 2015 which included home invasion, carjacking, and a police chase. He had also previously tried to escape from jail, police said.
It wasn’t until 3:30 p.m. on Friday that a jail employee reported to higher-ups that he was not able to reach Officer White on her phone and that Mr. White had never been returned to his cell.
During a press conference that same night, Singleton told reporters that there had never even been a scheduled mental health evaluation. At another briefing Monday, he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued for Vicky on a charge of “permitting or facilitating an escape in the first degree.”
At the time, Singleton said it was unclear “whether she did that willingly or was coerced or threatened” but added, “we know for sure she did participate.”