Human Rights

Not Only Was Tennis Star James Blake Innocent, So Was the Other Black Man NYPD Said He Looked Like

Everything about this story is off.
Everything about this story is off.

On September 9, the New York Police Department assaulted and arrested James Blake—the former No. 4-ranked tennis player in the world—outside of his midtown Manhattan hotel as he was headed to the U.S. Open.

At first, the NYPD claimed it was a case of mistaken identity, and that James Blake looked like a "twin" of the man they intended to arrest. Someone even leaked a photo of the man Blake was supposed to look just like. Now it turns out that "twin" has absolutely nothing to do with the case, either. This admission was tucked deep in a few stories about the case:

The team of officers, looking for suspects in a credit card fraud ring, were relying on a courier who identified Mr. Blake as one of the buyers, the police said. The officers also had an Instagram photo of someone believed to be involved. That person, who Mr. Bratton said looked like Mr. Blake’s “twin brother,” turned out to have no role in the scheme.
Now this man's face is all over the internet, mostly mentioned with the words "suspect" and "theft." Who gave them this photo of some other random dude off of Instagram? The courier? The NYPD now claims the company, GoButler, gave them the random Instagram photo of this man, but that still doesn't explain the self-serving reason they released it to the public.

What's crazy about all of this is that the entire case is supposed to be about identity fraud.  Yet the NYPD continues to mangle the identities of innocent black men who had nothing at all to do with the case.

What's this all about? 

This isn't about truth. This is about public relations, and the NYPD is incredibly good at PR. Let me explain.

Before NYPD Commissioner William Bratton ever spoke to the officer who assaulted James Blake, he publicly declared that the case had nothing at all to do with race. How did he come to that conclusion? Did he just have a hunch? Was it because the officer simply said it had nothing to do with race? If so, that's not enough.

We now know that Officer James Frascatore has had half a dozen use of force and racial profiling complaints filed against him. So actually, commissioner, you should reconsider what might have happened here. According to both Blake and an eyewitness who saw it, he was treated like a violent criminal.

“I was standing there doing nothing — not running, not resisting, in fact smiling,” Mr. Blake said, explaining that he thought the man might have been an old friend. Then, he said, the officer “picked me up and body slammed me and put me on the ground and told me to turn over and shut my mouth, and put the cuffs on me.”

A man who sells newspapers near the entrance to Grand Central Terminal said he watched the police rough up Mr. Blake. “They were real aggressive, like he robbed a bank,” the man, Charlie Sanders, 55, said. “They were shoving him around.”

What we do know is this: Had that not been James Blake, the tennis star, being roughed up by police, if he were some other innocent black man? He might still be in jail right now.

 

Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

Shaun King is a member of the DailyKos contributor community.