Short Take: Can The NYPD Be This Stupid? Yes

Helicopters in the air. Dogs in the hallway. RMPs everywhere and tons of cops. A mass murderer? Terrorists? Nope. Shit for brains, as nothing else explains the incomprehensible excesses to arrest a 28-year-old protest leader for talking with his megaphone near the ear of a cop.

But wait! They came without a warrant. They left without an arrest. Even in the grand scheme of stupid cop tricks, this one takes the cake.

Derrick Ingram, an organizer of a group leading New York’s Black Lives Matter protests, was besieged inside his Manhattan apartment on Friday while a police helicopter patrolled overhead, officers banged on his door and police dogs waited in the hallway.

The street outside had been closed off by roughly two dozen police vehicles and dozens of officers, including some who were wearing tactical gear and carrying shields. At the end of the block, Black Lives Matter supporters had gathered with bullhorns and cameras to protest what appeared to be Mr. Ingram’s imminent arrest.

The cops knocked. Ingram instagrammed the moment while supporters stood outside capturing the moment for the new reality show, Funniest Cop Videos.

“What did I do? What did I do?” he said on a livestream posted on Instagram. “I was born Black, that’s what I did.”

On the one hand, this didn’t happen to other people “born Black,” so maybe it involved a bit more than that. On the other hand, half a precinct worth of cops don’t show up to embarrass themselves so badly most of the time, so he’s got a point.

At a time when police action is under such intense scrutiny, when the right to protest is at its apex, when the likelihood that no one will notice the cops engaged in absurd excesses and when the person you came to arrest, without a warrant, happens to be a leader of that protest, you would think someone with half a brain would stand up and say,

You know, guys, after the shitstorm raised by the arrest of Nikki Stone that went viral, maybe we should go low key this time? Maybe we should act surgically. Maybe we should just give Ingram a call and ask him to come on down. After all, it’s not as if we don’t know where to find him.

It is almost inconceivable that the NYPD could have not realized the error of its tactics here. There is no justification, not even to the most ardent apologist. The optics were beyond horrible. And this fed into every complaint about police excess possible. The only thing they didn’t manage to screw up was to break down his door and kill him. Thankfully, they didn’t have a warrant, or that might have happened.

Not everything the cops do is wrong or bad. This was. And they picked a hell of a time, place and manner of doing so. It seems impossible that the NYPD could pull such a monumentally stupid move. And yet they did. This is hardly the way to show the public why you deserve to exist.

9 thoughts on “Short Take: Can The NYPD Be This Stupid? Yes

  1. Chris Hundt

    Does the NYPD just generally not bother with arrest warrants? If so, do you know why that is? I’ve been able to find references to the widespread practice of arresting people based on I-cards and I understand why it is legal (if they are in public) but I don’t understand why they don’t just get warrants so that they can enter homes, etc.

    1. SHG Post author

      Arrest warrants are almost never used in NYC, likely because they require some small degree of effort and create a discoverable writing. But if you’re going to someone’s home to arrest them, the failure to have a warrant is just dumb. I can’t explain why they would put in all that effort, all those “resources,” but show up without a warrant.

      1. Chris Hundt

        Sounds like the CCRB wonders the same thing. From a 2015 report: “An analysis of the complaints involving I-cards reveals that, in many instances, subject officers had time to obtain an arrest warrant prior to arriving at an individual’s residence. It is unclear why officers do not obtain arrest warrants when they have sufficient time to do so.”

  2. Henry Berry

    I think you’re missing the point. In this case — as in many like it, usually cases of overkill including open brutality — it’s not that the police are stupid (though I’m not arguing they aren’t). It’s that the police are indifferent — as in “here’s what we think of your stinkin’ optics.” Police rarely miss any opportunity to demonstrate their contempt for the public. Another example of this is promotion or “awards of merit” for police officers whose misconduct is exposed or who are strongly suspected on the basis of credible, ample evidence of misconduct. Such accusations or suspicions are regarded as credentials, whereas in normal society, they would at least make for sensible precautions regarding certain individuals. Thus it is that the worst become the models for other officers, and police departments commit themselves to defending the worst; and often giving the heroes in blue another reason for whining and pouting when the public rightly questions what is going on with them and what is the explanation for obviously singling out the worst for such reward in police culture. Then the police wonder and complain of the “gap” between them and regular society. This is where police stupidity comes in. Though I expect their is a large measure of dishonesty in this as it is hard to believe that anyone is so stupid as to not realize that if you continually show contempt for others, they are likely to develop a poor opinion toward you. Again, it’s largely indifference, not stupidity.

    1. SHG Post author

      Oblivious would explain the last viral bust gone bad. To be oblivious this time is no longer merely oblivious.

      1. LocoYokel

        Was it oblivious or was it deliberately done to send a message?

        We can make your life miserable, we can get you if and when we want and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. We don’t even care if your friends all line up and scream we will still get you, and them also if they give us an excuse.

        Not saying it’s a good message but when you are used to being an unquestioned authority you will resent when people start attempting to draw borders around your assumed power.

        1. SHG Post author

          I’m pretty sure there’s a whole subreddit dedicated to that insightful and important question, LY. Hey, you should go over there to discuss it rather than squander your brilliance in my comments.

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