A video released by a New York City Police Department sergeants’ union claiming police officers have become the target of “blue racism” has sparked backlash.
The YouTube video posted Sunday by the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the largest labor union representing police officers of the NYPD, begins with a slideshow of police officers going about their work.
“The average person doesn’t see those things that make me human,” a narrator says. “They don’t even label me based on being African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian and so on. They tend to see an even broader stereotype through an even more racist lens. When they look at me, they see blue.”
The union claims that “this strange form of racism continues to engulf the country.”
The video then shows clips of anti-police protests and incidents of discrimination and crimes against police officers, including the July 2016 violence in Dallas, when five police officers were killed and nine others injured by a gunman following a Black Lives Matter rally.
“Surely, we haven’t lost the ability to discern the facts from whatever might arise,” the narrator continues. “Surely, we haven’t lost our ability for civil discourse grounded in mutual respect. I remain committed to my community. Can you see me for who I really am?”
Toward the end of the video, the union condemns the racial clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a reported Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19 others. Two Virginia state troopers were also killed in a helicopter crash near the protests.
“We condemn the Nazi, white supremacist actions and rhetoric displayed in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend,” the video states. “Our thoughts and prayers go to the victims of this violence and to the police officers that were injured and killed doing their job. Racism of any kind will never be tolerated.”
The union concludes by honoring six more police officers who were shot the very same day they finished producing the video.
The video has elicited a mixed reaction on social media. Many are applauding the police officers for standing up for themselves, while others have taken issue with the use of the word “racism.”
The NAACP called the video “reprehensible,” CNN reported.
“This video demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of our nation’s sordid history of racism, including law enforcement’s role in perpetuating past and current discrimination,” the group said. “Communities of color face racism every day, and have been victims of hate and other crimes across this nation because of the color of their skin.”
The NAACP said the conversation should be about policies “that will ensure that everyone returns home safely after a law enforcement interaction,” CNN reported.
SBA President Ed Mullins told CNN that the word “racism” was used deliberately in order to spark up a conversation.
“The language to it — the uniform becomes a blue skin,” he said. “We get to peel that off. People of color don’t, but when we’re in that uniform and we’re targeted and killed for what we do, enforcing the law, we’re being treated the same as a person who is a target of racism on a regular basis.
“The object isn’t to create divide. It’s to create dialogue, to lead to credible people to bring solutions to the forefront,” he said.
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