Monday, April 4, 2016

NYPD Cops Arrest Postal Worker in Brooklyn for Yelling after Police Car Cearly Hit his Mail Truck

NYPD Cops Arrest Postal Worker in Brooklyn for Yelling after Police Car Cearly Hit his Mail Truck

There are simply scads and scads and scads of videos up on YouTube which announce themselves as showing American local police to be far less than what we'd hope for. But, truth be told, some of those videos, after you launch them and give them a good look, reveal their creators to be immature souls who simply resent authority or that their ideas about how police should behave to be seriously misinformed. Still, SO many of these videos deliver on their promise: either they show police caught in the act of bullying citizens or unaware of the precepts of the American Constitution. Disturbing!

Picking one video that's emblematic of this situation is impossible. In fact, this video, while it caught my attention, is but one of at least half a dozen that show much the same footage of this same astounding incident. If you run any of the following titles through YouTube's video search engine you'll be taken to them. Quite likely others on the same incident will show up, as well ...

- NYPD Officers Arrest US Postal Worker On Duty Delivering Packages Who Criticized Them (11,361 views)
-  One Brooklyn-- Questionable Arrest of On-Duty Postal Worker Press Conference
-  CORRUPT COPS Arrest US Postal Worker On Duty Delivering Packages Who Criticized Them (20,919 views) 
-  NYPD Arrest Mailman on Video in Road Rage Blow Up  (1,849 views) 
- NYPD investigating after postal worker arrested  (913 views)
-  Black Postal Worker Harassed & Arrested By NYPD While Delivering Packages (28,908 views)

Start the video and we are into it immediately, witnesses to reality unfolding as someone captured it on a CELL phone video camera. There’s that strange quality of unstaged drama - people behaving in ways calculated to cover over what they are really feeling or to project something other than who they really are at the moment.The shaking camera, the sound that catches something extraneous and that leaves of some things essential to understanding what's going on.  I suppose a very talented film director can fake this sort of thing, but certainly pains would have to be taken to pull it off.  This video simply works well to tell the story of what happened.

It's pretty amazing. Those cops are not having an easy time of it. No real physical resistance, but so much attitude directed against them.  A crowd of citizens and passersby gather to bear witness and hold little back in letting these policemen know that they very strongly disapprove of what they are doing as they put a man under arrest, handcuffing him behind his back, patting him down for god knows what, and putting him in the back of the police car to be delivered somewhere. But then again, it's equally amazing that these 4 body armor wearing law enforcement agents seen to accept that as the way their business is done on the streets of Brooklyn - nothing out of the ordinary - nothing to get upset about or even hardly to notice - just a typical day in the life on one of NYC's streets. And certainly there's nothing in their behavior that would indicate that they feel that being videoed is anything to bother about or even notice, at all, either. Nothing to give away and sense they might have had that what they were doing was wrong...

And what were they doing? And was it wrong? Ordinarily, a video like this would simply be uploaded to YouTube where it would be posted over a title announcing what the poster feels it shows. In this case that title reads: "NYPD Cops Arrest Postal Worker in Brooklyn for Yelling after Police Car Cearly Hit his Mail Truck" and that, friends, would be that. Every now and then, though... Well, here are some excerpts about this incident form just one of the NYC newspapers (The New York Times) that reported on it shortly after it occurred:

Bratton Has ‘Strong Concerns’ About Arrest of a Mailman in Brooklyn

New York City’s police commissioner expressed “strong concerns” on Tuesday about the arrest of an African-American mail carrier who was at work in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn when he was taken into custody amid an altercation with four police officers.

The arrest of the mail carrier, Glen Grays, attracted national attention after a cellphone recording taken by one of several witnesses at the scene of the March 17 episode was released by the office of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, last week…

After the arrest, which resulted in Mr. Grays being issued a summons for disorderly conduct, the officers were removed from their assignments and put on patrol pending an investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau, the commissioner said…

He also said he had “strong concerns” about the charges against Mr. Grays after viewing additional footage of the arrest that the Police Department had obtained.

The arrest forced Mr. Grays to leave a United States postal truck unattended, raising questions about potential violations of federal law regarding the interruption of mail delivery. A representative of the United States Postal Service said in an email last week that its Office of Inspector General was investigating the matter. That an unsecured truck had been left double-parked on a busy street after Mr. Grays was taken into custody “would be a significant issue of concern in terms of the investigation going forward,” Mr. Bratton said.

The video released by Mr. Adams’s office ends with the officers placing Mr. Grays, in handcuffs, in their unmarked car. In an interview last week, Mr. Grays said he was not given a seatbelt. On the way to the 71st Precinct, he said, the car struck a vehicle in front of it…
Over the past six years at least three of the officers involved have been named in federal civil rights suits alleging false arrest, among other claims. Most of the cases remain active, and such suits are not uncommon…

OK, I guess by piecing together this video and the Times article it's not so hard to figure out what probably did take place. And by the way, my having grown up and spent the majority of my adult life in New York City, knowing its culture and day to day realities, figures heavily in the conclusions I draw about this. Here's my guess:
a) The Postal Worker, Mr. Grays, was probably just doing his job and that, no doubt, involved leaving his mail truck, double parked, probably illegally and perhaps irresponsibly, double parked on a residential Brooklyn street while he delivered a package or a special delivery letter, or something that required him to get out and visit one of the buildings on foot
b) The 4 cops, who already were violating police department policy by being out of uniform (in my mind something indicative of a general mindset that they could do whatever they wanted without regard for rules or laws and without any sense of impending accountability) coincidentally, drove down the same street and came upon Mr. Grays' mail truck.
c) The cops engaged Mr. Grays one way or another. They may have, as some witnesses claim, hit the mail truck or perhaps gotten too close to it, or perhaps they may have simply expressed extreme displeasure with the way the truck was parked, using language that New Yorkers are familiar with, but others might consider to be extremely threatening and/or disrespectful. To complicate the situation, my guess would be that these 4 "gentlemen" failed to identify themselves as on-duty police officers and (by my experience) were probably so caught up in the spirit of the moment (a spirit I'd describe as like that of a bunch of teenagers high on being together and unsupervised) that they probably didn't remember that department procedure would require them to behave in any particular way other than the way they felt like behaving at the moment.
d) My guess would also be that Mr. Grays didn't yield to their statements, returning their hostility with defiance and belligerence of his own (you can see some of this as they are confronting him in the video).
e) And finally, to teach Mr. Grays a lesson, the 4 cops decided to arrest him because, well, they could and in the heat of the moment satisfying their anger was what was important to them - the law and Mr. Grays' civil rights not really figuring into their behavior.

Among the many disturbing aspects of this incident is that all the players: the cops, the neighborhood witnesses, and Mr. Grays, as well, all seem to accept the above as 'what is.' Yes, they go through the motions of feigning indignation, but I see a great deal of resignation to the norm in what's shown on the video, a sort of acceptance that this is the way life goes in Brooklyn. And I think people out there on the streets also simply accept that when you witness something of this nature that what you do is whip out your CELL Phone and video it and then upload that video to YouTube. And the cops, too, I think, are well aware of this and simply shrug that off as just another condition of the daily grind, you use the power invested in you by the people to settle your personal scores and some guy or other is going to video you doing that... no biggie!

Much has been said over the past few years about how Social Media, especially video, is now the tool of revolutionaries, that phenomena like the Arab Spring, for instance, are fueled by uploaded videos bearing witness to injustices committed against the people, the world to bear witness. Is that what we are seeing here? Are we seeing a tool for the benefit of the populace in use? And are we seeing the power structure, the 4 cops in this case, thumb their noses at it, or is the fact that the NYC Police Commissioner felt compelled to comment and investigate and suspend the 4 cops due to the light YouTube shone on this little street corner drama evidence that a new tool for social justice has emerged and it's in the hands of the people right now?

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