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Police: Handcuffed or Handcuffers? Keeping public order becoming a tall order

New Yorkers tend to subscribe to an “If You See Something, Keep Moving” policy, which is why it was startling to notice a crowd of commuters whipping out their cellular phones to record an encounter between a white police officer, his Asian patrol partner, and an African American youth who was refusing a police command to remove his backpack. Teenaged onlookers jeered, a group of young university women hissed, and a hipster with dreadlocks called out to the officers to leave him alone.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The police officers ignored the cell phones and protests, and insisted the youth comply. Egged on by the crowd, the youth refused. Eventually, one officer had the youth stand against the wall while his partner searched the bag. After the crowd dispersed, I asked one of the officers. “How often does this happen?” His response: “It’s like Big Brother follows us everywhere.” While police may feel that trouble is always lurking ahead, there is a growing divide between white and black America on the issue of whether the police are capable of meting out equal treatment on the basis of race. The divide is likely to widen in the wake of theBaltimore riots, sparked by the death ofFreddieGray, an African American arrested for possession of a switchblade, who later died of injuries sustained while in police custody. Within the last year, protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, over the fatal police shooting ofMichaelBrown, and in New York, whereEricGarner was killed by a police choke hold.

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