This week the New York Police Department attempted to improve the public’s opinion on the department. Like most things on the internet, it did not go the way the police expected. Asking Twitter users to post images of their interactions with police in hopes the public will post images of friendly officers. What they got instead was a showcase of the NYPD abusing their power and abusing common citizens.
Credited to mainly the Occupy movement, the tweets began as the NYPD expected with images of smiling civilians with police officers. The hashtag #myNYPD quickly was flooded by examples of brutality, hypocrisy and abuse of power carried out by officers. Many of the tweets were clearly sarcastic with images of a man being held down by multiple officers being called a massage. Others included an officer pulling a woman’s hair in order to “untangle” or “straighten” the woman’s hair. The use of #myNYPD eventually became the most popularly used hashtag worldwide above Earth Day this Tuesday.
The posts negatively portraying the NYPD vastly outnumbered the positive number of posts causing a huge debate on social media about the state of police activities in New York City and, as the hashtag was a worldwide phenomenon, on the global scale. Many call for the shrinking of police forces and increase the personal responsibility of safety. As usual in cases of police brutality as well as failed police work, the question of a need for concealed firearms in heavily populated areas arises. Those for conceal carry assert the level of uncertainty in an individual being armed tends to defer would be assailants while others argue that having weapons in the general population will cause a massive increase in the amount of deaths by firearms. Another argument that arose across social media was the generalization of police being power hungry and abusive. Opponents of the sweeping statement claim that the number of officers that abuse their power is tiny while many retort that a few bad apples ruin the batch as well as the apparent lack of repercussion for misconduct allows for the abusive officers to continue their misbehavior.
The NYPD commented on the failed publicity stunt in a rather disconnected way. Deputy Chief Kim Royster asserts that the uncensored twitter exchange has opened up new avenues of communication between the department and the public. Overall, Royster found the exchange good for The City of New York. Even in the most obvious of images and videos of police misconduct that were put in the light thanks to the explosion of the hashtag, no police officers will be held responsible for their actions.
The sheer volume of posts should be a clear indication of the way communities feel about the NYPD practices. The motto for police remains “to protect and serve” but after events such as this, there is a clear indication that the ones who are protected are not the people of New York City or any city for that matter. The New York Police Department take the criticism in pride and will not change their policies over the backlash.
By Andy Diaz