The last thing we need from Hollywood right now is another anti-cop show that puts the lives of our heroes in blue at risk and contributes to a record high number of officers being ambushed and killed across the country by painting officers as evil monsters out to prey on innocent victims. But that’s exactly what AMC’s new drama 61st Street is all about, unfortunately.
61st Street centers around black track star Moses Johnson (Tosin Cole), a good kid with a promising future despite growing up in Chicago’s impoverished South Side. Michael Rossi (Patrick Mulvey) appears to be the only good cop on the show who’s secretly trying to uncover the bad ones.
When Rossi gets a tip from an inside source that drug gang The Nation is getting heat from police while The Faction is openly selling drugs without repercussion, it confirms Rossi’s suspicions that there’s corruption happening within the department. Rossi even wears a hidden wire under his uniform to record anything shady he might happen to catch.
When he meets with his superior, Lieutenant Francis Brannigan (Holt McCallany), there are subtle hints that Brannigan is one of the bad guys, so, of course, there’s a Thin Blue Line flag with “Blue Lives Matter” written on it hanging on his wall. It’s an obvious attempt to taint such messaging, meant to defend the vast majority of good officers, by tying it to a corrupt cop.
Brannigan asks for the name of Rossi’s source when Rossi informs him of the intel he received. As soon as Rossi leaves, Brannigan orders a sting on The Nation, and the informant ends up being shot dead. Unfortunately, Moses and his younger brother Joshua end up caught in the middle by being at the wrong place at the wrong time:
Gang Member: What's up, man? What you doing over there?
Joshua: I'm on the way to the spot, G.
Gang Member: You know you don't walk this way, man.
Joshua: I'm going to the crib.
Gang Member: You're not walking this way. What's up? You need something? I don't know what you doing, man. What's up?
Moses: Josh! Hey, man, that's my brother, man.
Tutu: Come on, man. We ain't paying for this. Come on, keep it moving, man. We ain't paying for this.
Moses: What's up, TJ? A little early for y'all today, huh?
TJ: Yeah, the cops putting heat on us, so we gotta put the hours in.
Tutu: What you saying? Huh? You saying something. You should say it.
Moses: I'm just saying, man, back in the day, when shorties used to go to school, you boys fell back. You know what I'm saying?
Tutu: Boys?! "You boys"? Coming from this college boy right here, huh?
TJ: Hey, Tutu. Chill out, bro.
Tutu: Look at this college boy. Man, miss me with that. Check this out, though! Hmm? Boy.
TJ: Hey, Tutu, don't do that.
Tutu: What now, boy?
TJ: Don't do that. Don't do that. You be there. 100-meter dash! Final Olympic games! You be there for the South Side. On your marks, get set...go!
Police: Nobody move! Get down on the ground! Get down on the ground! Hands behind your back! You, down on the ground! Down on the ground!
Joshua: Mo! Mo! Don't shoot!
Man: We got a Black male. Light-blue top…
To make matters worse, Moses accidentally kills Rossi when he falls on a large nail after Moses shoves him while attempting to flee. Moses is distraught but runs in fear as Logan approaches.
Back at the police station, Brannigan interrogates Joshua to get the name of the person responsible for Rossi’s death, but when he refuses to name his brother, Brannigan ominously orders two officers to take him to “the river":
Joshua: What y'all taking me down here for, man? Hey, man, what y'all taking me down here for? Man, I already told y'all, I didn't do nothing! Yo, what y'all taking me down here for?! I didn't do nothing! Hey, I didn't do nothing, man! Please! What y'all doing?!
Cop: Let's take a walk.
Joshua: I'm telling you, I didn't do nothing! Please, man! I just want to go home! I didn't do nothing! Please! Please! Please! Come on, man! Stop, man! Please! Please! Please!
Yes, there’s obviously corruption in some police departments like Chicago. And yes, it needs to be uncovered and weeded out. But having these corrupt officers throw a young man into a river is absolutely ridiculous.
Later, Brannigan and his crooked team storm into Moses’ and Joshua’s home, terrifying their innocent mother and planting drugs in the home:
Police: Go! Go! Go! Let me see those hands! On the ground!
Norma: I am! I am!
Police: Stop moving now! Get down! All clear.
Norma: Ow! Ah! Y'all in the wrong house! Oh, you hurting me!
Brannigan: Go check the bedroom. Sit down!
Norma: Ow! What do you want?!
Brannigan: Where is he?
Norma: Where's who?
Brannigan: Your son.
Norma: Oh. What's your name?
Brannigan: I'm Lieutenant Brannigan.
Norma: He's a good kid. Like, he wouldn't do anything. You got the wrong man, Officer Brannigan. I swear.
Brannigan: That's not what Joshua's just been telling us.
Norma: Joshua? Why do you have Joshua? What did Joshua do? What do y'all have Joshua?! Please.
Norma: Be careful with her.
Brannigan: You want me to be careful? One of my guys is dead in the street because your son's an animal. I'll be careful when you tell me where he is.
Norma: My son's not an animal. He would never kill anyone.
Brannigan: Next you're gonna tell me he doesn't sell drugs.
Norma: Because he doesn't sell drugs.
Brannigan: And he's not affiliated?
Norma: He ain't affiliated with no one 'cept his family.
Brannigan: Please don't take me on, lady.
Norma: He didn't do nothing. You got the wrong kid.
Brannigan: Oh, that matches what we seized on the corner.
Norma: What's that? That ain't mine. You know that ain't mine. Y'all planting stuff now?
Obviously, the show is adding to the anti-cop sentiment by trying to make the officers appear cruel and heartless as well as corrupt, while the Johnsons are a good, kind, innocent family. (Though Moses’s actions did lead to the death of a good cop, even if it was accidental.) But while there are of course plenty of good families in impoverished areas like Chicago’s South Side, unfortunately, the majority of people the police encounter are dangerous criminals.
And of course, the show isn’t depicting how real-life corruption in Chicago happened and happens under Democrat leadership, and that the city is dealing with a severe increase in crime after leaders defunded the police. Nor are they showing how they’ve had to greatly lower their hiring standards amid staffing shortages due to attrition in the police department, resulting in a spike of applications from those who otherwise wouldn’t be qualified. Nor are they depicting how Democrat leaders spent millions on their own police protection while defunding it for the rest of Chicago’s citizens.
In other words, the Democrat-run city is a mess, and they’ve only made things worse by chasing out the good cops and enlisting lesser qualified ones. Shows like 61st Street only contribute to these problems by furthering an anti-cop climate and widening this country’s racial divide while putting good officers’ safety at risk as mentioned before. Let’s hope it’s canceled before it can do more damage with a second season.