Wait for the report


To the editor:

(re: “Silence from elected officials,” Nov. 23)

The knee-jerk “power to the people” reaction to police work is great for rallies, but puts us all at serious risk.

Their reaction ignores many documented instances where police officers have had their weapons grabbed by the criminals that they were apprehending, resulting in the police officer’s death, as well as the deaths of innocent civilians.

On Oct. 6, after being told he was under arrest, the teenage criminal tackled a police officer and tried to put his hands around the officer’s neck. He had the officer on the ground, and in all probability, was close enough to grab the downed officer’s gun, which could have resulted in the death of the officer, or even our social justice warriors videotaping the arrest.

The officer’s quick-thinking partner came to his aid during the assault without using lethal force.

We must allow internal affairs, the Bronx district attorney and the Bronx borough investigative unit time to evaluate the facts and determine whether all proper procedures were followed. That might be inconvenient for self-professed social justice warriors. 

I prefer law and due process for the brave men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line to protect us each and every day. They deserve no less.

Rob Spalter

Rob Spalter


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Don't worry Mr. Spalter. These people who are "protesting" this latest action of "poiice brutality" have gotten nowhere with their campaign. Most of the signatories on their petition are the people behind the petition and no one is taking them at all seriously.

Friday, December 8, 2017
Jennifer Scarlott

Thank you for your response to my letter, Mr. Spalter. So far as I'm aware, there has been no "knee-jerk reaction" to the police work of October 6, in which an immobilized 16-year-old was punched 13 times in the head by an officer lying on top of him. Nor any knee-jerk reaction to the subsequent dangerous statements of the 50th Precinct's Commanding Officer Terence O'Toole, who is quoted in the lead news piece in the 10/13/17 edition of The Riverdale Press as saying that Burns is a "scourge on the Bronx... He is going to fight with police for the rest of his life, guaranteed.” O’Toole continued, “And the next cop that he encounters may have to shoot him because he is going to fail to comply. Because that is going to be his lifestyle forever.”

In the same Riverdale Press interview, Mr. O'Toole also arguably made efforts to intimidate the public, asserting that he would seek the arrest of a woman for screaming while she videotaped the Oct 6 incident, saying that she would be charged with inciting a riot with her screams: "[She is] subject to arrest if we can find her."

Does such a series of statements by a NYPD commanding officer concern you in any way?

When one combines a number of statements that have been issued by local residents expressing their concern about these matters, there are upwards of 50 who have gone on record to share their views, including four clergy and two assistant pastors at local houses of worship: Christ Church Riverdale, St. Stephen's United Methodist, Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture, and New Day Church. Undoubtedly, the number of people in the area who are concerned about the police officer's actions during the Oct 6 arrest of Alfred Burns, and Mr. O'Toole's statements, is considerably higher than the 50 or so who have taken the time to share their views publicly.

I agree with you that men and women in uniform are entitled to the protection of "law and due process." But so are all people who are not in uniform, including Alfred Burns. Yes, there is a NYPD Internal Affairs investigation underway and I join with you in being interested in the results. I am dubious, however, about the ability of institutions to fairly and impartially investigate themselves or to hold themselves accountable. We deserve better. We deserve independent, impartial investigations of police actions and statements like those of the Oct 6 officer and of Mr. O'Toole. If we feel a situation that is dangerous and unjust exists, with little prospect of remedy, particularly a situation in which those who are creating the injustice and the danger are armed authorities, we must never abrogate our right to make our views and concerns known. We have constitutional rights to do so. We also have deep moral obligations to do so.

I and many thoughtful people in our area believe that the officer used excessive, dangerous, deliberate, and possibly illegal force against Alfred Burns on October 6, beyond what was needed to take him into custody. If you have watched the video of the incident, you will see a female police officer trying to stop the officer as he punches Burns 13 times in the head -- she and passersby recognized that the officer's actions were dangerous to Burns, possibly lethal, and that they constituted punishment, which only the courts are legally permitted to mete out.

You call the people you disagree with on this matter "social justice warriors." Is that meant to belittle them? Shouldn't we all be "social justice warriors"? I hope you and many others will join us by signing our online petition. You can find it by going to Change.org, clicking on the magnifying glass icon at the top of the screen, and typing--A Police Brutality 'Vision Zero' for the Northwest Bronx.

Friday, December 8, 2017


Saturday, December 9, 2017

There are many more documented cases of police overreach resulting in unnecessary injury or death. On ethnic disparities, the data is pretty clear. Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people; 25% were unarmed compared to 17% of white people; though they make up 13% of the population, they represent 25% of officer-involved fatalities. There are well-known cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray.

So reaction to excessive force isn't really knee-jerk or over-reaction by "social justice warriors." Looking at the video, the youth could have been hand-cuffed far sooner and it wasn't necessary to injure him to submission to make the arrest.

If a community isn't allowed to question whether police are acting within the scope of community norms, or whether the "due process" is slanted and nontransparent, the result could be greater conflict in the community, than otherwise would be the case. The letter written several RP editions had some good suggestions. Hopefully, it will be taken seriously by community leaders.

Monday, December 11, 2017
Jennifer Scarlott

@ "Democrap 4 Life": Talk about a "scourge on the Bronx."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ah, a little sliver into the classist and intolerant mind of a person who calls themselves tolerant and accepting. So, calling someone who disagrees with you a "scourge of the Bronx" is ok? I thought you were supposed to be the open minded, tolerant one here? But someone disagrees with you they are now a "scourge?" I love when glimpses of true liberal hatred are exposed. It's pretty ugly to witness, but at least a truth is exposed. And a truth we all know to be the case......that the left is often filled with toxic, disdainful personalities who literally drip with class hatred.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Jennifer Scarlott

I'm comfortable calling out flagrantly racist comments that incite hate and potential violence.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

You did not call out a comment. You called out a commenter, calling him a "scourge of the Bronx" because he has a different opinion than you. Not very tolerant or liberal. I guess your tolerance for diversity goes out the window when diversity of opinion and thought rear their head. Not cool at all. It's also a personal attack that I thought was not allowed on this website. Michael Hinman, where is your delete button?

Thursday, December 14, 2017
Michael Hinman

Mr. Teller:

Once again, I remind you that comments are not the place to opine on how moderation is done here. If you have a question about moderation, you can email me directly.


Thursday, December 14, 2017
Jennifer Scarlott

"TruthTeller," there are boatloads of irony in your defense here of tolerance, diversity, and difference of opinion, given that you make a career of excoriating people who hold different views from your own throughout the Press's comments sections. I used 50th Precinct Commanding Officer Terence O'Toole's characterization of 16-year-old Alfred Burns as a "scourge on the Bronx" to describe "Democrap 4 Life's" (deleted) comments which were, as I said before, flagrantly racist. It was your choice to describe O'Toole's words as "classist." I don't know anything about "Democrap 4 Life" except that, yes, I freely admit to viewing his/her racism as intolerable and dangerous. Racists inhabit all classes.

"Democrap 4 Life's" choosing to post racist comments in this comment thread is revealing of how some view the police actions in this case.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

No irony at all actually because I have never set myself up as the arbiter of all things moral. I just post my opinions and counterargue. But for you to call a commenter a "scourge of the Bronx" is ironic considering how much you and your friends lecture the rest of us about tolerance and diversity. Should't you be tolerant of diversity of opinion? Since I have never tried to lecture anyone about those things, and I don't try to portray myself as the beacon of all things pure, I can't see any irony in my post.

It must have been fun for you though to think you "got me." Maybe next time......

Friday, December 15, 2017

America has an original sin, and some secondary ones as well. It is good that people acknowledge their privilege, s especially important for people in majority groups. Racist hate-mongering add nothing to civil discourse, and should be removed, as most publications do.

Thursday, January 4