The view from the receiving end of pro-cop internet vitriol
Hi all! I’ve got a quick interview for this edition and no other updates besides a shaky promise to try to do this more often.
This week, the New York Post published two different articles (exclusives, even!) about Noah Weston, a leftist running for Democratic District Leader in Brooklyn’s AD 46. (He’s also, FULL DISCLOSURE, my friendly acquaintance.) Both articles concerned Weston’s tweets about the NYPD and cops in general, most of which read like this:
amNewYork @amNewYorkAn NYPD highway patrolman and three canine handlers were honored Friday in front of thousands of screaming basketball fans at Madison Square Garden during the Big East tournament. https://t.co/q211GNKKw7
ManyYids BFE POV @soulkhanhere's nyc mayor candidate eric adams teaching you how to search your own home for contraband. and no, this music was legit already there. i didn't alter *anything* in these excerpts lolol https://t.co/EjNbzcbtNr
Achmat X @AchmatXEric Adams just said “Low skill workers like cooks, messengers and Dunkin’ Donuts employees don’t have the academic skills to sit in a corner office” https://t.co/KaoY9MNZ8J
In other words, they range from funny to honest :-) but they’re also (obviously!) rude and disrespectful, if that’s something you care about… which, of course, cops and cop lovers do. Weston said he started receiving hate mail preeeetty shortly after the Post and a few Daily Mail-tier follow-ups lit up the conservative outrage Bat Signal with their coverage of, again, his rude tweets.
And that’s just the public stuff! “I've gotten messages from people with old addresses of mine, my family's names, things that are anti-Semitic, things that are anti-Black… and you know, I'm not new to it, but I think the volume is higher,” Weston told me. “Which is tough.”
Here’s a little bit more about Weston’s experience, edited and condensed for clarity/to cut out the chit chat.
OK, honestly, I skimmed this article. I know the big thing is that you’re saying all this stuff and running for office. Can you tell me about the position you’re running for?
It’s funny—for all of the flack that’s occurring, it's an unpaid position where you're just part of the executive committee of the county Democratic party. You help choose who's the leader of the party, vote on its rules and platforms. It's the representative of the district's voters in the party—not even a policy position directly. You certainly make decisions based on whether you think they further your policy preferences, but really, it's a position to help run and grow the Democratic Party. I want to do that in a way that's commensurate with my values and a direction that I think the party should go in. But I’m not gonna be writing any laws.
Right, the sort of reaction to you potentially having a role like that really underscores how threatening some people find the kind of things you tweet about the NYPD. So, when did the Post reach out to you?
The reporter reached out a couple hours before the first story came out on the 17th, which was not a ton of time. But I wasn’t going to recant all of that stuff—because it’s true—and I assumed this story would have largely gone the way it did regardless of what I said. I told him that the reason I said that about the police was that they were on video, abusing and beating people. And every day we see them also engaging in horribly reckless disregard for COVID, as they have through this entire pandemic.
And then this a second article about the fact that you used to work for [NYPD oversight agency] the Civilian Complaint Review Board … oh damn, they got someone from the SBA to comment. Did you see this? I’m gonna send it to you.
“How Mr. Weston ever got through the vetting to become a CCRB investigator when he has clear and open biases against law enforcement is anyone's guess…” See, the funny thing is it’s the other way around. I wasn’t a radical about policing going into the CCRB. It was seeing how horrendous police were through the lens of the CCRB, which itself is a very moderate institution—in a way, one that buffers against radicalism. But experience at the CCRB and seeing nothing happen to any of the cops we investigated was a radicalizing moment for me.
Oh, and they want to review my cases—that’s hilarious, my cases from 2008 to 2011. I'm sure they're gonna find a lot of crazy things. I was able to substantiate two allegations maybe my whole time there.
What else would you say radicalized you?
It certainly didn't help that I grew up in the city where, you know, Rodney King was beaten on video, that was part of it. Stories of people like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur. The more I learned about American history, the more I became critical and skeptical of policing. But what hammered it in for me as to their complete uselessness and backwardness as an institution—honestly, my CCRB experience cemented that.
Totally. And then I know you posted a snippet of it, but what has the backlash been like? Are you OK?
I am all right, but I don't like the idea of having to potentially look over my shoulder even more than usual. I think people in political circles, no matter who they are, need to be aware that backlash against people who are critical of the cops is one of the most dangerous kinds. It needs to not be treated lightly.
Entities like the New York Post, when they are, are inciting this type of backlash, they are putting people like me in harm's way. Because I am under this microscope for what I said about cops, it is a much more elevated level of risk than I'm usually exposed to and that goes for anybody, especially women of color, who are critical of the police. I feel like the supporter of a cop could legit kill me and nothing would ever happen—they certainly wouldn't treat it with the same severity they treat someone who kills a cop, I’ll tell you that much.
Man, that’s heavy. Has anybody harassing you actually identified themselves as a cop?
Not specifically yet, but it’s a deluge—I just stopped looking at a certain point. But these people are police sympathizers. That’s indisputable.
And I figure if it ever got to the point where I was being really dangerously transgressive—not just like, posting stuff—it would be even worse than this. So I can't really get too broken up over it at the moment. Not that I deserve the hateful messages or the threats I’ve been receiving, but this is sort of an inevitability if you're doing anything worth doing or saying anything worth saying.
It’s so bizarre. Fan behavior.
They’re the worst fandom—watch out Rick & Morty, I think they’ve got you beat.
But there’s also this inevitable incongruity of this group of people who are like, I believe in public safety, that's why I'm pro-cop, and I want you to not be safe because you don't support cops. It’s completely contradictory, but that's because they don't want public safety. They want security guards that only protect white people or people with property.
It’s also so funny acting like the NYPD perform perfectly and are beyond critique when we just watched them fuck up the Brooklyn shooter thing so bad.
Yes, like the worst fuck up. In the first article about me, they quote me saying [mass shooter] “Frank James did more than the NYPD did to catch Frank James,” and then they said, “referring to the shooting subject who turned himself in. In their own shit, they’re saying yes, these people are fucking incompetent and wasting their money, but this guy is real bad for his swears.
Questions, comments, corrections? (“You don’t know what it’s like to be a police officer” is not a correction.) Shoot me an email at email@example.com, send “business” “inquiries” to firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM me on Twitter.