A new video posted by a New York Police Department sergeants’ union alleging that officers suffer from “blue racism” has stoked controversy online.
The video, posted Sunday to the Sergeants Benevolent Association YouTube page, begins with photos of NYPD officers at work.
“The average person doesn’t see those things that make me human,” a narrator’s voice-over says in the video. “They don’t even label me based on being African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian and so on. They tend to see an even broader stereotype through an even more racist lens. When they see me, they see blue.”
After that, a blue filter comes over the rest of the video. It shows news clips of incidents of violence against police officers, including the July 2016 deaths of Dallas police officers, and other videos of protesters flipping a police car and chanting anti-police sentiments.
The video later incorrectly quotes a famous line from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their color, but by the content of their character.”
The line actually reads, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“I remain committed to my community,” the voice continues in the video. “Can you see me for who I really am?”
The video concludes with a condemnation of the Charlottesville, Virginia, attacks earlier this month and a tribute to two officers shot in Kissimmee, Florida, earlier this week.
SBA President Ed Mullins stood by the video, saying he felt the word “racism” would trigger a conversation and get the word out. He said he felt “total disgust” regarding anti-police sentiments and police assassinations over the past few years.
“The language to it – the uniform becomes a blue skin,” he told CNN. “We get to peel that off. People of color don’t, but when we’re in that uniform and we’re targeted and killed for what we do, enforcing the law, we’re being treated the same as a person who is a target of racism on a regular basis.”
The NYPD declined comment and referred CNN to the union.
Reaction on the web to the video was swift. Some condemned the association for implying that police officers were a race.
Others expressed concern for the safety of officers.
The NAACP called the clip “reprehensible.”
“This video demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of our nation’s sordid history of racism, including law enforcement’s role in perpetuating past and current discrimination,” the group said.
“Communities of color face racism every day, and have been victims of hate and other crimes across this nation because of the color of their skin,” the statement continued.
The group said the conversation should be about policies “that will ensure that everyone returns home safely after a law enforcement interaction.”
Mullins emphasized that the goal of the video was to get people talking about solutions to anti-police sentiments and violence.
“The object isn’t to create divide. It’s to create dialogue, to lead to credible people to bring solutions to the forefront,” he said.
The SBA represents about 13,000 active and former NYPD officers.