Apathy

by anthony

Apathy:

1: lack of feeling or emotion: impassiveness

2: lack of interest or concern: indifference

Last year, over six hundred and eighty-five thousand New Yorkers, over ninety percent non-white, were harassed by a policy the police have adapted called Stop & Frisk, the success rate being approximately ten percent.  Complaints about Stop & Frisk were down thirty-four percent.

A few days ago, every news network in New York (and probably everywhere else) exploded with word that a shooter had shot ten people near the Empire State Building, ending with two people dead.  Everyone cried out about another gun massacre, a call to arms went up again about gun control and we all felt angry.  The truth, though, is that the shooter shot and killed one person.  The other nine people, including the shooter, were all shot by two police officers of New York City who discharged 16 rounds.

A couple of weeks ago, a man with a knife in Times Square was shot twelve times by police officers.  The man did not attack anyone and, after being confronted by police, lunged at an officer, which prompted them to open fire.  He was originally confronted for smoking marijuana and the police have come forward in admitting that they knew the man (from past arrests) and that they also knew that he was mentally unstable.

I will never deny the danger that our police officers are constantly in but I also refuse to deny the hypocrisy of that danger.  It is a job where the individual assumes the danger that they will face.  When one becomes an officer of the law, paid by the taxes of every citizen of New York City, they assume a responsibility to Protect and to Serve.  On the side of every police vehicle are the words Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect.  They are also trained, extensively, in all and every sort of scenario that they might face.  I am proud of the resources that go into that training.

Restraint is a major part of that training.  In the face of a threat, those endless hours of gun training (again, that we have paid for) give them the skills to disarm and take down a perp with minimal danger to the criminal and to those in the surrounding area.  Restraint, focus, patience, professionalism.  The average citizen allows passion to overcome their actions, and that is what makes an officer of the law different.  That is why we trust them with deadly weapons and with our protection, because they should know better.

In every case above, their leaders, Raymond Kelly and Michael Bloomberg, have justified the actions of the police and have justified the force used.  That is to be expected.  I do not agree.  Personally, I am disgusted and disgraced that those types of actions are accepted and encouraged in the place where I live.  I have resided in New York City fourteen years.  In this past year, it is the first time in my entire time living here where I have felt more afraid of the danger from the police force I pay to protect me than I do the criminals in the city.  And, I know that I am not alone.

Perhaps I am just joining the party.  After-all, I know minorities have been reluctant targets of the police for decades before me.

There is only so much blame to be placed on these officers because this is what they are being encouraged to do by their leaders.  It is what they now are being taught.  And it is all being justified by the complete apathy, if not also the encouragement, of the citizens of this city.

Everyone is angry these days, but everyone seems to be more concerned with living a disruption-free life.  I have been searching for the word that best describes the new condition of the citizen-base of this city and the only word that continually stands at the forefront of my mind is pathetic.  The citizens of New York have become pathetic with the obsession of their apathy.  It has become a badge of honor to work, make money and disregard the effort necessary, the responsibility required, to fulfill their duty as an active citizen in a democracy.

Have we always been hypocrites and I am just seeing it?  Or have our priorities really become so selfish that we can make no effort whatsoever to stand up for what is right anymore?

“Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”