Readers Write: Pro-police rallies support systemic racism

Readers Write: Pro-police rallies support systemic racism

In your Aug. 7 piece, “Thank you to cops without the politics,” Lakeville Estates Civic Association President Bill Cutrone claimed that he felt the “Back the Blue” rally held in Eisenhower Park last month was tainted by “politics” and that he strived to organize an alternate event without such distractions to honor local police.

Of course, what Cutrone likely meant was that the organizers and attendees of the Eisenhower Park rally gave the game away and said the quiet parts out loud.

The Eisenhower Park organizers invited Ted Nugent, who has an unfortunate habit of referring to Black individuals as “subhuman,” to headline the event.  (He infamously called President Barack Obama a “subhuman mongrel” in 2014 and used similar racist language on Facebook as recently as July 25.)

They also invited U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins to speak, despite the fact that he resigned from the Opelousas Police Department in 2007 after striking a suspect in custody and lying about it to investigators.  (In 2016, Higgins told Louisiana newspaper The IND he did lie about the incident, but resigned for other reasons and not because disciplinary action, including a demotion, was pending.)

While both Nugent and Higgins eventually pulled out of the physical event (they still addressed supporters online), this was a loud-and-clear signal that the Eisenhower Park rally wasn’t some benign attempt to boost police morale and, instead, was a defiant middle finger in the face of Americans demanding racial justice and equity.

While Cutrone suggests that his subsequent parade was an attempt to strip away any political controversy or partisanship and just show appreciation for police, this is nonsense.  If your response to Black Americans demanding equal treatment by police is to throw a parade for the police, the message is the same.

On a related note, state Assemblyman Ed Ra should be ashamed of himself.  In your Aug. 7 piece, “Effort to protect cops under hate crime laws,” Elliot Weld reported that Ra had introduced a bill that would make police officers a protected class under the state’s hate-crime statutes.

Firstly, no occupation, police officer or otherwise, should be included in any hate-crime statute. An occupation is a choice. The color of one’s skin in immutable.

Secondly, there are already enhanced penalties for assaulting or committing other violent crimes against police officers in New York State.  If Ra believed these penalties were not severe enough, he could have introduced a bill making such penalties more severe.

Instead, Ra has introduced what is essentially a “Blue Lives Matter” bill, implying that police officers face the same level of persecution as traditionally marginalized groups of Americans.

This demeans real victims of hate crimes, and is, once again, designed not to honor or protect police, but merely to antagonize their critics and distract from the grievances of those facing systemic violence and discrimination.

It’s unfortunate Ra has chosen to spend his time in office exacerbating the cracks in our society, rather than working to repair them.  History will not remember him kindly.

Matthew Zeidman

New Hyde Park


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