Poised and self-assured, retired tennis star James Blake has shared his harrowing experience of being aggressively body-slammed on a Manhattan side-walk outside his hotel and falsely arrested by an undercover police office who refused to identify himself.
The police officer was part of a group of undercover officers who zeroed in on Blake while he lounged in the hotel waiting for his ride to the Tennis Open. Saying that he initially planned to keep quiet about the embarrassing incident, James said he changed his mind after discussing the matter with his wife, a publicist.
Blake, who left Harvard early to pursue his professional career in tennis, rose to the rank of fourth in the world before retiring from the sport after the U.S. Open in 2013. While in New York from his home is San Diego, California, to enjoy the festivities at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Blake was arrested by NYPD undercover officer James Frascatore, who was seeking to apprehend a criminal for allegations of credit card fraud.
While NYPD Police Commissioner and New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio have issued apologies, the renegade cop, who has had four complaints lodged against him by the Civilian Complaints Review Board, has not. Meanwhile, Blake has made it clear that he wants more, particularly to ensure that Blacks who lack the resources and name recognition that he has, can also be assured of recourse when police run amok. In a statement Blake said:
“Extending courtesy to a public figure mistreated by the police is not enough,” Blake said he plans to “use my voice to turn this unfortunate incident into a catalyst for change in the relationship between the police and the public they serve. For this reason, I am calling upon the City of New York to make a significant financial commitment to improving that relationship, particularly in those neighborhoods where incidents of the type I experienced occur all too frequently.”
Bratton quickly dismissed race as a motivating factor in the arrest, stating “I don’t think race was a factor. The rush to put a race tag on it, I’m sorry, that’s not involved in this at all.” But Blake, speaking to the New York Daily News on Wednesday, after the incident begged to differ.
“In my mind, three’s probably a race factor involved, but no matter what, there’s no reason for anybody to do that to anybody,” he said, explaining that he was standing in his hotel lobby after just finishing answering questions from a reporter and responding to text messages, when he saw the person in shorts running towards him. James said he smiled, thinking it was someone who he attended school with in the past.
For countless Black men and women across the country, police brutality, whether it’s illustrated by use of excessive force and false arrest as in Blake’s case, or unprovoked murder of unarmed citizens like Eric Garner and Sandra Bland, the pain and fear are real. Blake said when he was being held on the floor of the hotel lobby he said to the officer: “I will cooperate fully with you but do you mind telling me what this is all about, I think you have the wrong person,” but the discourteous, poorly trained officer told him to keep his mouth shout, to which Blake replied “I’m scared.”
It is a blessing that Blake was not murdered and that he lived to tell the tale, but for far too many African-Americans the outcome is a dead body and police officers covering up their dastardly deeds. In fact, Bratton said no report was filed about Blake’s arrest and that, as the commissioner, he learned of the incident by reading the Daily News.
Blake has vowed to speak out more about the issue, and, speaking to ABC’s Robin Roberts on Thursday, he said: “I’d like an explanation for how they conducted themselves because I think we all need to be held accountable for our actions, and police as well.”
It is hoped that Blake’s experience will result in meaningful police reforms, but it’s unlikely that much will change because the cycle has become all too predictable: police misconduct, public outcry, words are issued to placate the masses and then another person is assaulted or murdered while Blacks scream and ask: When will it stop?
In the meantime, Frascatore has been stripped of his badge and gun, and placed on desk duty. However, just from this incident alone it seems that kicking him off the force is the only practical solution. He is not a good representation of any police department and New York City certainly does not need another hot-headed, impulsive cop on the force as it tries to fight its well-earned reputation of being a cadre for racist, irresponsible and abusive police officers.–OnPointPress.net.–