NYPD police commissioner William Bratton sought to remove race as an issue in an incident that saw cops tackle tennis star James Blake outside a Manhattan hotel. Blake, who has African American heritage, was mistakenly targeted by police as part of a sting operation involving fraudulent credit cards. Bratton may have done more harm than good with his words.
Whether or not excessive force was used is a separate issue from the race factor. But while Bratton may not be able to effectively counter the excessive force charge, the commissioner claimed that “race has nothing at all to do with this.” Then Bratton made a statement which will probably come back to haunt him. Bratton said: “if you look at the photograph of the suspect, it looks like the twin brother of Mr. Blake.” Echoes of “they all look alike” could be heard in that statement. Black lives not only matter, as advocates of the eponymous movement claim, they are unique. No doubt plenty of people will be able to find distinguishing physical features that separate the fraud suspect from James Blake, tennis star.