Thursday, July 24, 2014








(Thursday July 24, 2014, NYC)  The audio and visual images of NYPD Officers attempting to arrest Eric Garner on Staten Island last Thursday are compelling and, to the uninitiated eye condemning.  The dynamics of this most recent high profile NYPD interaction with an alleged perpetrator is one we are all too familiar with.  Passions naturally run high on both sides of the circumstances by which the 6’ 5’ 400 pound father of six died after he resisted arrest and was taken to the ground before the Officers could subdue him.

The unfortunate death of Mr. Garner is being perceived through the same narrow vision of a tricolored spectrum; Black, Blue and White are the only colors this particular prism allows to filter through.  Mr. Garner was a Black man and the NYPD Officers represent the Blue hue and all happened to be White.  As long as the debate is framed in such a limiting manner we might look back on this episode months from now as the flashpoint that ignited what may prove to be a long hot summer in our City. 

And, as predictable as tomorrow’s dawn the usual public figures insinuate themselves into the growing maelstrom because they can never resist an opportunity to exploit their own self-promoting, self-serving interests.  People who could use their “fame” or other status to bring measured tones to counter the rancorous arguments throughout our neighborhoods opt instead to fan the always simmering flames of racial tensions while disparaging the NYPD has become their stock in trade.  It is sickening to see men such as “Reverend” Al Sharpton who has traded his track suits for $2000 Amani’s since the Michael Stewart days.  Perhaps to bolster his lagging career as a film maker, Spike Lee has stepped up to the plate and, in the most despicable way possible, created a mishmash video clip of Mr. Garner’s tussle with police with images from a somewhat similar scene from one of his movies that he just so happens to be re-promoting to mark its 25th year anniversary of release, his 1989 film “Do The Right Thing”. Spike Lee clearly demonstrated to all that he is a classless instigator who has used many of his films to further his political agenda while getting rich directing half-witted, racially charged movies.

Within hours after Mr. Garner was pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced that his Department’s Internal Affairs Division was going to conduct an investigation of the incident and retrain Officers on what is officially considered a “chokehold”, a means of subduing an individual that has been banned from the NYPD Patrol Guide since 1993.   On Tuesday the FBI announced that they would be “monitoring” the internal NYPD investigation.  That is a curious statement since the entire event falls within the domain of The City of New York and its Office of Legal Counsel, NYPD and the FDNY since four FDNY EMT’s arrived at the scene and appeared to not be making sufficient efforts to revive Mr. Garner as he lay on the ground.   By law the FBI is tasked with federal law enforcement and has no jurisdiction over the NYPD and cannot become involved in any “local” criminal investigation unless the case meets certain strict criteria and/or they are formerly “invited” by local authorities to assist them.  Perhaps the Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder are preparing for what will likely be a civil suit brought by Garner’s family.  In any case, at this point this development just further complicates the matter.


With the popularization of MMA or Mixed Martial Arts Fighting, the viewing public knows what a choke-hold looks like.  Most times an opponent is trapped in a choke-hold he will lose consciousness if he doesn’t “tap out” prior to passing out. While many who have seen the video of the Officers attempting to arrest Mr. Garner see an Officer grab the much taller, heavier man from the back, that maneuver is clearly not a choke-hold; the Officer never locked his arms in the position that would be considered a choke-hold.  The Officer employed a common street fighting technique known as a take-down.  It is a close-line type clinching of one arm from behind an assailant’s back in order to restrain the individual’s effort to resist arrest and possibly injure the Officers.  That Garner was morbidly obese and as an asthmatic were contributing factors that no doubt were the underlying cause of his death. 

A complete or partial post mortem examination was made of Mr. Garner’s body by one of the NYC Medical Examiners.  That report has not been released and may still not be complete.  But, the results of that post mortem will prove what exactly killed Mr. Garner.  The truth is always revealed by the Forensic Pathologist’s scalpel.  The external and initial internal gross examination of tissue and organs often show telltale evidence as to the cause of death and, after specific tissue samples are processed for microscopic study, the whole story can be told.  Until that report is made public any opinions regarding Garner’s death are speculative at best; purposely deceptive and false at worst.

Much has been made about Mr. Garner shouting at the Officers who were attempting to cuff him while he was pinned beneath them on the ground in a standard operating procedure for applying cuffs to a resisting perpetrator.  He was heard 11 times forcefully telling the Officers, “I can’t breathe”.  A person who is rendered into a position or succumbs to the pressures that would obstruct breathing would also render them unable to speak forcefully and clearly.  If Garner was indeed having his breath obstructed his pleas about his lack of ability to do so would have grown shallower, more labored and fainter.  Again the post mortem will reveal what his breathing restraints were or weren’t and if, in fact, he succumbed by asphyxiation.  It is likely that Garner suffer a myocardial infarction – a heart attack – brought on by the over exertion as he resisted arrest, compounded by his bulk and asthmatically compromised lungs.


After 39 prior arrests for essentially penny ante crimes, for whatever reasons, Mr. Garner chose Thursday July 17, 2014 to make a stand.  He kept his back to the wall as the Officers converged around him to question him and he told them clearly, “This ends today”.  Obviously he was referring to what he perceived as all his priors and had reached his point.  Everyone has a point and last Thursday Mr. Garner had decided he had reached his.  At any time he could have simply complied with the Officer’s initially polite questions that escalated to more threatening tones as Garner continue to remain in a belligerent, resistant posture. 

While the video clip captures the sights and sounds of the altercation the element that no recording device of any kind can capture is the “feel” of the confrontation, the “smell” and “sense” of it as it plays out as both parties react and respond to the energy field between them that crackles and tingles like static electricity between high tension wires.  People who have grown up or spent times “on the streets” know all too well that feel, smell and sense component.  Anyone who has ever gotten into a barroom brawl or street fight is familiar with it.  Cops are intimately familiar with this sixth sense and as they grow in experience all the stimulus accumulated and processed throughout the years allows the Cop to acquire instincts; second nature responses that result in rapid, decisive action be that particular reaction escalatory or de-escalatory.  

It can be posited that an average man of Mr. Garner’s age, no matter his race, color or creed would comply with any reasonable instructions from uniformed, armed Members of Service (MOS) of NYPD.  Mr. Garner did not comply.  Does this entirely excuse the MOS who interacted with him last Thursday from any culpability?  Does that event explain why the EMT’s appear indifferent to Mr. Garner’s health status as he lay on the sidewalk?  These are not questions that can be responsibly answered from simply viewing the video clip that has gone viral.  People are free, obviously, to draw any conclusions they care to, arrive at the answers that most comport with their world and personal views.  But having such potentially incendiary tirades as we have seen on the local TV news and have read on-line, in the papers and in the media at large is absolutely counter-productive and creates an even greater chasm between the NYPD and the African American community who often feel they are subjected to unfair scrutiny and heavy-handed tactics by NYPD MOS.


The overwhelming majority of New Yorkers welcome the safety and security the men and women of the NYPD provide.  They support efforts to reduce crime, initiatives designed for crime prevention and overall help maintain a sense of social order that many big cities today such as Chicago, Detroit, Flint, and Oakland are severely lacking.  We of a certain age have all lived through our darkest chapters and recent troubling trends ought not to be misinterpreted as ominous signs that we are sliding backwards.  We are not returning to our past.

The fact of the matter is that while people like the concept of the Police they are often uncomfortable and disturbed when they actually witness real life “Policing”.  Policing the largest City in America is a tough job, one the MOS of the NYPD take great pride in and excel at.  Policing is often sloppy, sweaty, dangerous and ugly.  There is nothing neat and tidy about policing our streets and housing projects, our parks and promenades, and our subways.  Policing often requires the use of force; of physical altercations with the criminal element that no one really wants to know about.  They do not care to know about it until they notice it is NOT happening anymore.

With the cessation of the controversial “Stop, Question and Frisk” (SQF) policy, many citizens from neighborhood councils and groups throughout the Five Boroughs, some living in the most crime infested pockets of The Bronx, Brooklyn and Upper Manhattan tell Officers that they miss the greater Police presence that SQF often brought to their streets and projects. After all it is not the Police themselves who help maintain social order but rather the concept of the Police.  Since MOS cannot blanket every block throughout the City, it is the concept of being caught in some criminal act that helps maintain the order required of a civil society.  Do the Police sometimes get something wrong?  Certainly.  They are all as error prone as any humans are but they are also highly trained in the exercise of restraint,  self-restraint , as well as in the most effective, efficient and safest methods to apply force while protecting innocent lives and their own lives.

For some reason it seems as if the Officers who engaged Mr. Garner one week ago and were probably familiar with his history to some degree, felt it necessary to make the arrest.  As it unfolded he made some very poor choices and the MOS may or may not have made similarly poor choices.  It is only fair that we all wait for the truth to be revealed.  The autopsy report should be complete and released by this time tomorrow. Until that time everyone should refrain from drawing conclusions and exploiting this sad event for their own purposes.

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 22, 2014












(Tuesday July 22, 2014, NY, NY)  New Yorkers awoke this morning to see two white flags flapping in the gentle breeze across the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge. As one of New York City’s most iconic structures the questions being asked today are more than alarming.  Considering other recent apparent security breaches at the George Washington Bridge and site of the Freedom Tower, these questions not only demand answers they require immediate action.  It is difficult to believe that anyone in NYC or any of the local and federal Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) tasked with providing safety and security could have already become complacent.  There does seem to be an undeniable pattern of less than acceptable security at various important sites throughout the NYC Metro Area. This is a difficult fact to face but face it we must. Other locations across our country including other large cities, much of the vital infrastructure, electrical grids, pipelines and cyber threats remain increasingly vulnerable.

Earlier today the 9/11 Commission Chair Tom Kean and Vice Chair Lee Hamilton issued a blistering follow-up report 10 years after the July 22, 2004 release of the detailed summary of their original investigation titled: “Final Report Of The National Commission On Terrorist Attacks Upon The United States”.  Kean and Hamilton both express a measure of anger barely concealed by their obvious dismay and frustration.  They conclude here in July of 2014 that may of the most significant and glaringly exploitable of security flaws are still in evidence today.  They were especially harsh on the complete inability of the Congress to do anything worthwhile let alone actual oversight.  They bemoaned the lumbering, top heavy, inefficient, often ineffective Department of Homeland Security as a failed bureaucratic boondoggle ill-conceived and hastily constructed by the Bush Administration barely two months after September 11, 2001. The report released today titled "Today's Rising Terrorist Threat and the Danger to the United States: Reflections on the Tenth Anniversary of The 9/11 Commission Report” pulls the drapes off the windows of the federal intelligence apparatus and bluntly states just how vulnerable we remain ten years to the day after their first report.  They comment on the disjointed mutations of terrorist groups spawned from al Qeada, their proliferation around the world and the furtherance of the technological sophistication of some of these groups.  While we may have grown somewhat complacent in the last 10 years the terrorists have certainly not retreated from their efforts to attack our country in another dramatically lethal manner.


The caldron of geopolitical strife simmers across the globe and in some places today it has reached the boiling point.  Some of the usual suspects are involved as Israelis pound a beleaguered Palestinian people with disproportional measures, Sunnis and Shi’ites wage their age old war in the Iraq we fractured, France sends troops into former colonial Africa, and the Russian / Ukraine crisis hit a new low with the downing of a commercial Malaysian Air flight over Ukraine territory held by Russian-supported separatists last week.  The guerrilla fighting continues in Syria and the aftershocks of the “Arab Spring” reverberate angrily from Egypt to Libya. Cross border wars continue in North Africa while African nations such as Somalia and Yemen remain safe havens for the jihadis training camps from which inevitably a significant terrorist event will be launched against the United States or a proxy location that is of vital interest to our national security.  Yes, the daily discordant rhythm of the world never takes a break; the beats go on and on. 

And as our tumultuous world spins on its axis we in America can never forget that we are a part of it; actually, we are the lone remaining “Super Power” and, as such we are endowed with a measure of respect and sometimes fear equal to and sometimes surpassed by the hatred of those who wish to do us harm.  We can afford to be military isolationists with our military presence in Afghanistan at a 12 year low and our complete exodus from the disaster Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and their neo-con puppet masters created out of deceit, deception and lies in Iraq; a torn and splintered failing state thanks to our ill-fated foray based on false pretenses for our “preemptive” invasion. But the world today is smaller than it has been at any time in the past.  We live in an interconnected network of economics, finance, commerce, trade and treaties that binds us globally in a weave of symbiotic and parasitic relationships that demand our constant attention.  As the world turns so do we, for better or worse isolationism is fraught with peril. 

We should resist the knee-jerk reactions of Congressional buffoons such as John McCain, Lindsay Graham and all the other chicken hawks, to act as a “global police force”.  Where we need to focus our resources is not in flaming arenas around the world but rather right here at home.  We have an enormous problem with our own unsecured southern border, as floods of Central American immigrants and Lord knows who else try to sneak into the United States 24/7.


Amid all this global chaos it is difficult for our intelligence agencies to discern credible threats from terrorist’s bluster.  Contrary to the time prior to September 11, 2001, all of our redundant intelligence gathering and analyzing agencies are specifically tasked with the heavy responsibility of preventing another 9/11/01 scale attack.  Sadly it took the events of 9/11/01 to rattle the cages of the inept, hapless, lazy, pension-padding bureaucrats into cooperative action and to assume an offensive footing as we launched our “Global War on Terror”.  While that particular term has fallen out of fashion, the mission remains the same. Though they have not perpetrated another successful terrorist strike on American soil since September 11, 2001, let there be no doubt that there are those working just off the radar towards that end. 

Large regions around the globe are shrouded in the fog of various wars and it is this fog that the terrorists exploit; they have some “cover” while they train and prepare for their next attack.  Below the obscuring blankets of fog the battle against global terror has lost some of the sense of urgency and vigilance it requires.  We in the West do not tell time as our adversaries do.  We view the world through a narrow slit behind us while they still seek vengeance from wrongs committed centuries ago.  This is no abstract, archaic concept; it is a painful reality as we witness two Peoples engaged in a bloody 60 years of bitter bloodshed fighting over land each of believe was ceded to them directly by God as told in the Bible. 


We really need to reset our clocks and lock in for the long haul.  We must make a more concerted effort to acquire a more nuanced understanding of our enemies instead of labeling all, all of “them” in one deep nest of vipers.  Back to the Chinese days of antiquity we can read the words of their famous military leader Sun Tzu.  In his book “The Art of War” he makes many important points not the least of which is to understand, to “know” your enemy; his strengths and weaknesses, his tactics and strategies.  Only armed with knowledge can a military or other force rapidly dispatch an enemy.  Yes, our current struggle with terrorists will be long, protracted and complex.  We do not have one singular enemy such as we did for the length of the Cold War when the “Red Menace” of the USSR stood as our ever-present foe.  We have yet to adjust to the “nature” of our enemy; the asymmetry of the conflict and how in such a lopsided equation the terrorists have a distinct advantage.

This rash of recent security breaches powerfully illustrates what a small handful of determined individuals are capable of.  They have been able to scale the freedom Tower and parachute off in the still of the night just as a New Jersey high school student had similarly made that clandestine ascent just a few weeks before.  The weaknesses in the perimeter of the three Metropolitan Area airports have been exposed and two men from Inwood flew a radio controlled aircraft into the airspace above the GWB as an NYPD Aviation Unit helicopter hovered nearby.  Now several unknown individuals manage to scale the imposing towers of the Brooklyn Bridge and replace the stars and stripes with the white flags of surrender.  Imagine the damage they could have done, the havoc they would have wreaked had they planted a bomb or other explosive device instead of flags?

Individually each of these events is confounding perhaps perpetrated by harmless pranksters or dare devils.  Collectively they are deeply troubling and represent systemic failures in the security of New York City.  The turmoil around the world has given rise to the newest generation of terrorists and just like their al Qaeda forefathers they have their eyes set squarely on NYC.  There is no time to waste.

 Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved