MOSCOW, December 16 (Sputnik) - Amid ongoing protests over systemic racism in the American law enforcement system, a group of internet supporters of the New York Police Department is planning to organize a “Thank You NYPD” rally, planned to be held Friday in front of New York City Hall.
Supporters of the police have organized around a Facebook page, whose profile reads: “Thank you to the BRAVE women and men who keep the streets of New York safe and risk their lives doing so!”, with calls of “Police Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” echoing the “Black Lives Matter” chant being used by protestors voicing their anger over the Brown and Garner grand jury decisions.
Users commenting on the page, which has over 20,000 Likes, ask users to “appreciate our cops,” noting that “every cop who puts [on a badge] in the morning knows there’s a chance they might not come back at night.” Users have posted profiles of police officers killed or injured in the line of duty, noted officers’ good deeds for pregnant women and the homeless, and criticized detractors, along with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who allegedly dismissed an attack on police by protestors on Brooklyn Bridge on Sunday.
The Village Voice has explained that the group was organized not by police officers, but by “citizens who appreciate the safety that the NYPD provides our great city.”
Late Monday, the page’s organizer told followers that he now heavily advises them to cancel or postpone the rally, noting that those who plan to go ahead anyway should “be safe” as “there could be a backlash.” A user named James Bo, who appears to be a police officer, may explain organizers’ hesitation: “Not to sound ungrateful, but we, the NYPD have our hands full already. Let’s not add pro cop supporters getting attacked to that list.”
The Village Voice noted that the People’s Power Assembly Facebook page planned to “troll the NYPD supporters” and to “break their spirit,” with some even planning to crash the Friday rally. The #ThankYouNYPD Twitter feed was flooded with anti-police commentary following the announcement of plans on December 10 to hold the rally.
Some users on the pro-police page voiced their opposition to the idea of canceling the rally; one man said that doing so “would indicate we are afraid of the thugs in our streets. I cant [sic] stress this enough…we can’t be afraid to voice our opinion just because we’re being told if we do there will be consequences.”
A Baltimore Sun op-ed on Monday did its best to sound a diplomatic and conciliatory note on the matter, voicing appreciation for the efforts police make to keep Americans safe while also noting the importance of holding officers to account. The op-ed noted that “police officers put their lives on the line each day to protect the public and enforce our laws,” and that officers doing this dangerous job “are often underpaid and underappreciated.” However, this “doesn’t mean that anyone who carries a badge and straps on a gun is infallible or that their actions are undeserving of scrutiny. To hold such men and women above the law would be to dishonor them and their profession.”