You're a Customer

It's always amazing to me how the people with the guns, the ones who enjoy virtual immunity in the use of deadly force, are the ones who are, somehow, being bullied:

A police official who had spoken to Inspector Bologna following the incident confirmed that the inspector had used the spray. "He did his job and now he's concerned for the safety of his family," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to confirm the inspector's name.

That is an amazing quote -- though utterly unworthy of a grant of anonymity. A public servant pepper-sprays two citizens, and then slinks away. Members of the public record this, ascertain his identity, and somehow he is the victim. 

But this all strikes me as a keen understanding the reality of American democracy The NYPD is a service paid for by a tax on the public -- and not simply a local tax. In other words, you're a customer. I think it behooves any intelligent customer to observe the quality of service, and report those who dispense it poorly. 

The "protester" who records a cop dispensing abusive service is, first and foremost, an engaged citizen, and a vigilant tax-payer. Give America more people like that--more intelligent customers-- and I guarantee you we will have fewer abusive cops.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in National

From This Author

Just In