Police in New York have been told to be on high alert after officials learned of a possible plot by members of a notorious gang to try and kill on-duty officers.
Police representatives said the New York Police Department had been told about a threat by ten members of the Black Guerilla Family to try and murder one or more officers. The threat comes as New York and others US cities continue to see angry anti-police demonstrations following a recent decision not to prosecute an officer accused of choking to death an unarmed man this summer.
The threat from the Black Guerilla Family (BGF), originally formed inside Californian jails in the late 1960s and which has more recently been active in Baltimore, was reportedly discovered by a secret informant. The New York Daily News said the threat about the gang members, who swear allegiance for life and wear “BGF” tattoos, was being passed on to all officers.
Ed Mullins, President of the NYPD Sergeants’ Benevolent Association, said officers were being warned to take extra precautions, when they were both on and off duty.
“Please WEAR your VESTS and carry your firearm off duty along with additional magazines,” Mr Mullins said in an alert to officers. “Your priority is to go home at the end of your tour.”
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In recent years officials in the US state of Maryland, which includes the city of Baltimore, have linked the BGF to an increasing wave of crimes, including drug-dealing and murder. Earlier this year it was reported the gang was responsible for at least 19 killings since 2006.
The threat to officers come days after a grand jury in Staten Island decided not to charge police officer Daniel Pantaleo for the death of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father of six who was choked to death in July after being detained by Mr Pantaleo and other officers.
Protests over the circumstances of Mr Garner’s death, along with other incidents in which American police have accused of mistreating and even killing black suspects, have been held in a number of cities including Berkeley, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami and Minneapolis. In Berkeley on Saturday night, one man smashed a grocery store window with a skateboard as others proceeded to steal from the store. At least two other businesses were looted.
However, Mr Mullins, the police officers representative, said he did not think the threat from the BGF was specifically linked to the death of Mr Garner or the decision not to prosecute those officers filmed restraining him and putting in him in a so-called choke-hold, which proved to be fatal.
The protests over Mr Garner’s death came less than two weeks after a grand jury in Missouri declined to indict a white policeman for the shooting dead in August of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown.
Detective James Duffy, a spokesman for the NYPD, told The Independent the force was aware of general threats to officers and was taking all appropriate measures to deal with them. However he said it was not aware of a credible specific threat from the BFG.Reuse content