If you’d asked me to define the term “woke police” yesterday, I would have told you it’s slang for the social-media scolds who are forever spoiling to deplatform some new transgressor for their sins against progressive orthodoxy.
It turns out America’s worst mayor has a more literal definition in mind.
This could be an exciting new career opportunity for the left-wing Twitterati, though. Imagine how much they’d enjoy harassing citizens for “hate speech” as officers of the law, with the full authority of the state behind them.
He was asked a question at today’s press conference about hate crimes against Asian-Americans, a subject in the national news this week for the darkest reasons. Not every form of bigotry directed at someone for their race is necessarily criminal, though. Hooting at a stranger that they should “go back to China” is obnoxious but not in and of itself a criminal offense. What do you do in that case?
Well, said de Blasio, you have law enforcement get in their face anyway.
“Even if something is not a criminal case, a perpetrator being confronted by the city, whether it’s NYPD or another agency, and being told that what they’ve done was very hurtful to another person—and could, if ever repeated, lead to criminal charges—that’s another important piece of the puzzle,” de Blasio said at a Thursday press conference…
“The NYPD is a great example: one of the things officers are trained to do is to give warnings,” de Blasio said. “If someone has done something wrong, but not rising to a criminal level, it’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them to say, ‘that was not appropriate, and if you did that on a higher level, that would be a crime.’ I think that has an educating impact on people.”
“Not appropriate” is an awfully slippery slope. A year ago progressives wanted to defund the police, so anxious were they about sparing citizens from police violence. Now here’s the most left-wing mayor NYC has had in decades looking to expand the mandate for armed officers from enforcing the law to warning people that they’ve crossed a line of politesse that offended the officer’s sensibilities. All we needed to do to get de Blasio to fly the “thin blue line” flag, it turns out, was woke-ify the cops a little.
Note too that he’s not just imagining scenarios where a cop happens to personally witness someone shouting something racist and intervenes to keep the peace. He’s imagining the police making house calls:
“I assure you, if an NYPD officer calls you or shows up at your door to ask about something you did, that makes people think twice, and we need that.”
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) March 18, 2021
Would this new policy involve street harassment exclusively or would there actually be a “problematic tweets” division of the NYPD?
Watch two minutes below from today’s press conference to get the full flavor. Lefties are scoffing at him too, partly because de Blasio and the cops loathe each other and thus they’re unlikely deputies for him in this effort and partly because of the irony of asking the police to watch out for racism. I do wonder what an officer’s empowered to do, though, if he happens to see someone shouting belligerently at a passerby, whether in a racist way or otherwise. At what point does that cross from protected speech into disorderly conduct? We’re left to wonder why de Blasio didn’t argue that abusive language should be actionable under that statute — essentially a “hate speech” law via the back door — instead of explicitly saying here that the NYPD should intervene even in non-criminal matters. Oh well.