Angry at what they say is widespread discrimination leveled against their ranks, a group of police officers in New York City coined the term “Blue Racism” as a way to draw attention to the mistreatment they say they face at the hands of the public.
While a string of police-related killings over the last few years and the rise to prominence of groups like Black Lives Matter have shed light on the abuse some minorities face at the hands of law enforcement, the New York Police Department’s Sergeants Benevolent Association says they too have become victims.
“Cops are being shot at and killed just because they are cops,” Ed Mullins, the SBA president and a 36-year NYPD veteran, told Fox News. “Police are being made to be the bad guys and I’m not saying that there aren’t a few bad apples, but the majority of us are trying to help people and do our jobs.”
The SBA on Sunday released a video on “Blue Racism” in which the group describes how police officers have been systematically targeted for discrimination and how many people can’t look past the color of their uniform.
The roughly four-minute long video intersperses shots of law enforcement officers getting ready for patrol and helping elderly citizens with scenes from recent – and often times violent – demonstrations in response to police related-shootings.
“The average person doesn’t see those things that make me human,” the video’s narrator says. “They don’t even label as 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 narrator adds.
The video goes on to say the more than 700,000 police officers across the country have become a minority as this “strange form of racism” continues in the U.S. The video also shows various news clips of officers killed over the last few years while on duty, from the massacres last summer in Dallas and Baton Rouge to two NYPD patrolmen killed execution-style in Brooklyn.
The number of police officers killed on duty in 2016 did increase from the previous year -- but it was still well below the recent yearly averages. A report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund released last December showed 135 officers died on the job in 2016, the highest number in five years --but for the past 10 years the yearly average was 151 deaths.
In comparison, law enforcement officers killed more than 1,000 individuals in 2016.
“It’s a truly wild claim, considering A) police aren’t actually a race, and B) police are one of the primary means of exercising actual racism across the U.S., and C) POLICE AREN’T ACTUALLY A RACE,” a blogger for Splinter News wrote.
Mullins, however, said it is not just the shootings that led to these feelings of discrimination among law enforcement officials. There have also been incidences of restaurants and other establishments refusing to serve police officers.
In late July, an employee at a Dunkin’ Donuts in New York City allegedly refused to take the order of two NYPD officers. The officers, dressed in suit pants, shirts and ties, with badges and pistols on their belts, waited in line to order. When they got to the counter, the store clerk ignored them and asked the customer behind them what he wanted. When the customer said the cops were there before him, the clerk replied, “Yeah, I know, but I don’t serve cops,” according to the New York Post.
“What is the difference between that and refusing to serve someone who is black or Latino or Asian,” Mullins said.
The video drew sharp criticism on social media where it was called “jaw-dropping."
Mullins admitted that the term “Blue Racism” might be offensive to some people, but added the point of the video was to attract attention and get people talking about ways to stop any violence or discrimination directed at police officers.
“Sometimes you have to make a statement to further the issue,” he said, referencing the NYPD officers who rallied over the weekend in support of unsigned NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem.
“Just like Colin Kaepernick, what we’re doing gets the conversation going,” he added.