Sunday, August 31, 2014

Vera Pavone: Why there must be accountability for police and due process

After my last post on the NYPD, where I pointed out how MORE was being trashed from the left for calling for due process for police, Vera sent these thoughts, and I totally agree.
Due process does not mean automatic amnesty for all police no matter what they do. It includes investigation, prosecution and punishment of the guilty. All the guilty—not just those frightened, poorly trained, overly aggressive and socially challenged officers who are quick to use deadly force, manhandle, bully and otherwise abuse people who they are told to target. 

It also includes their superior officers who send them out to do their dirty work, as well as the top officials who determine policing policies and practices. Thus, due process allows us to locate the dangerous behavior of certain police in a context that is not necessarily of their own making.

Due process also protects those police who become whistle blowers, or who refuse to follow directives they view as discriminatory, unjust, dangerous to the public, or patently illegal. Or those who choose not to protect all those in the police chain of command who are misusing their power.

To my way of thinking, due process is the better way to achieve full accountability and to make changes in both policing policies and the behavior of individual police.


  1. I missed all of this going back and forth between MORE and others. I can tell you the worst thing any union member should do is declare they don't support due process. That said, we must as unions support each other. If we just concentrate on the individual actions instead of the whole, then we are no better than the actions of those who shame both our professions. There are many teachers who are related to the police, and I know this is tearing them apart. And in the end it will tear our union apart. Let us not forget that those who wear the uniform also protect us and put their lives on the line. And that has to be respected at all costs. For those who abuse their uniform, let the courts determine their fate, not social media.

    I remember when Randi called for a statement against the police following the shooting of Amadou Diallo. That was a horrific action, but the delegates voted Randi down. Randi called for it again, and again we voted it down. (This is when the DA was still democratic--pre Unity oaths). The delegates felt strongly that it would be seen as a statement against ALL the NYPD. I felt and still feel the same way. Now maybe there are those who will have a problem with my comment, and I hope they will respect my right to voice my opinion. But if they ever voice dissent against any union member receiving due process, then be prepared to lose any credibility you have built up. It's bad enough we have a union leader who didn't blink an eye when he threw ATRs under the bus denying them any real due process.

    I have no idea if "The Left" described by Norm was from within MORE. If so, that's terrible because it calls for a double standard. But what's even more mind boggling is that Vera (and I am sorry I don't know who she is) has to explain the benefits of due process. We should all know what it stands for and why it must be preserved.

    1. Major attacks came from the ultra left which looks at MORE as too reformist. Other attackss came from friends of MORE and there were also internal criticisms also. As you can see I am very ambivlent about police - My mother being from Belarus through 1920 may have had an impact as I always felt fear of police in my family. I understand what they do but do not equate their union with other unions since one of their main jobs has always been to control the labor movement when it gets too militant. Yes there are many wives of police in the union or vice versa but I find it hard to bridge that gap. I am also ambivalent about Mulgrew's support for the march. Sharpton no matter what he said is hated by the police and therefore the Sharpton element turned what could have been a march everyone could support into something else. Fact is: Black and brown kids are harassed constantly - I know from my former students - every single teacher faces the danger that one of their students might one day be lying in the street due to some misunderstanding with the police. Police have to make better judgements just like teachers have to in dealing with kids who are not responding the way we want them to. Fact is they want no accountability while our union wants too much accountability.

    2. Oh, and Unity has had a loyalty oath at least since the mid-late 60s when Shanker forced people who opposed the Vietnam War and the 68 strike out. So if Randi lost a vote it was an anomaly.

  2. Of course we should all be accountable. I don't remember saying police shouldn't. I thought the main idea of the post was due process and now you are switching it to accountability? I have no problem with that either. I really doubt every single police office wants to kill our students. But each day their families may receive a knock on the door saying they were killed in the line of duty. We should not forget that either.
    I hated the police actions under Bloomberg and Cuomo. But I will still defend their right to due process. And I will defend my opinion to foster a better relationship with all city unions. And I personally hope the PBA and others don't follow the pattern of our contract. If they get a better deal, than it's a sign to every member Mulgrew shouldn't be our president.

    My DR and I had a very good relationship when I was chapter leader, and he never offered me the oath. I would have had a big problem with that. But I was outspoken at our monthly meetings regarding union policies. But he allowed me to speak and even sent me to the AFT convention. He never tried to sway me, and I know he agreed with many of my comments. I truly believe he wanted more voices like mine within the ranks and begged me to stay on when I decided to leave the CL position. I was not a groupthink type of person. I wanted to represent my teachers even if it went against Randi's POV.

    However, the DA was run in such a way that people were allowed to speak and High School teachers who were not Unity got seats on the Executive Board. And it was a time chapter leaders elected their own DR. So it was way more democratic than it is today. But now I understand why I got more than a few "stares" when I voted against Randi who I learned not to trust after my first encounter with her at the new CL orientation in Princeton. You may not like the PBA, but they do fight for their members. How many UFT members are being thrown under the bus by our own union each and every day? How many agreements have they signed without giving us a chance to vote on it? How many of our basic rights are being discarded under Unity contracts around the country? And when it comes to unfair teacher "accountability", who was the Queen Bee that not only agreed to it, but was most likely behind it? We may see many firings under the new VAM agreement. I know for the teachers returning to work tomorrow, this is not a happy Labor Day. Especially for teachers who are devalued by both their students and principals and I will add--their union.


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