Monday, June 1, 2009

Mayor's Race Is Thompson vs. Bloomberg

The race for New York City Mayor is now a race between City Comptroller Bill Thompson and Mayor Bloomberg after Congressman Anthony Weiner declined to seek the mayoralty. Also, we experienced the killing of a Black police officer by plain clothes officers in New York City, reminding us how much being non-white is treated as a criminal act by the NYPD.

Weiner Leaves the Mayor's Race

Congressman Anthony Weiner declined to seek the office of the Mayor of New York City for this cycle. We wish him the best and hope that he will play a vocal and active role in the campaign that is emerging between Bill Thompson and Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg's most recent tantrum has caused us to question whether he is emotionally mature enough and stable enough to serve a third term as Mayor. The campaign will be an excellent laboratory for examining whether Bloomberg has the temperament to lead for an "extra" term.

Weiner has done a poor job thus far explaining why he is dropping out of the race - other than stating that he believes that Bloomberg's personal wealth will crowd out Weiner's message and make it impractical for an honest debate on the issues to take place. Wealthy candidates are often defeated (Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand defeated a very wealthy self-funded candidate in a heavily Republican district in her final Congressional race before being appointed to the US Senate). We'll need to see Weiner actively campaign for Democrats this Fall and articulate the case FOR ELECTING DEMOCRATS rather than hiding behind the wealth of his would-be opponent.

Walking While Black

We wrote recently about the Bloomberg stop and frisk outrage. This year, the NYPD is on a pace to stop more of our fellow citizens than ever before. Though only 5% of those stopped receive a summons, and only 5% are arrested, the practice continues. Though the white New Yorkers who are stopped are twice as likely to possess guns, drugs, or stolen property versus those non-white New Yorkers who are stopped, Ninety-one percent of those stopped are persons of color. Stops of whites amounted to only 2.6 percent of the white population. By contrast, stops of Blacks, represented 21.1 percent of the entire Black population.

Unfortunately, the race-based policing that is angering and inconveniencing ordinary New Yorkers is also causing deaths. Last week, a Black police officer was killed by plain clothes officers who apparently thought he was a suspect in a crime.

The silence of Mayor Bloomberg in the aftermath of the killing of a Black police officer by white officers is a reminder of his unbalanced view of justice. As we have noted, Mayor Bloomberg expressed a view that a private citizen, Plaxico Burress, be prosecuted in the immediate aftermath of the incident in which Burress shot himself accidentally, but he has generally been silent when the police, who are under his control, kill New Yorkers deliberately. This deliberate killing requires a full examination, and it is inappropriate for the NYPD to investigate its own dysfunctional and aggressive antipathy for non-whites (even for non-white police officers).

Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel has called on the federal government to investigate the killing, and we hope that the federal government would do just that.

What We Said In 2008

Last year, we commented on Mayor Bloomber's attack on Plaxico Burress. Our comments are relevant as we contemplate the killing of a Black police officer last week by the NYPD. We said that the Mayor should not have stated that "[i]t would be an outrage if we don't prosecute [Plaxico Burress] to the fullest extent of the law." Burress was charged with illegal gun possession after shooting himself accidentally. We gave three reasons:

1) There is a potential taint for the jury pool. We are all innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Plaxico Burress will have a defense strategy, and the Mayor shouldn't pre-judge the outcome of the jury's assessment of the defense case.

2) Hypocrisy. When the police shoot unarmed New Yorkers with 50 bullets and kill one of our fellow residents, the mayor expresses concern but encourages us to withhold judgment until all the facts are available. Yet, when he sees a non-violent criminal charge against a private citizen, he demands the most aggressive possible prosecution. He doesn't mention patience or withholding judgment until all of the facts are in. He is on the attack. The Police work for him, we can excuse him for being outraged and impatient for the judicial process when people who work for him kill his innocent fellow citizens. Ironically, he has the patience to let the judicial system work when those who report to him have taken innocent life, and he has no patience when a private citizen is charged with a non-violent offense.

3) Criminal law shouldn't be politicized or demagogued. We must remember that the officers who killed Sean Bell were found not guilty by the judge in their case. They didn't get lenient sentences because of mitigating circumstances. They didn't plead to a lesser crime to avoid a mandatory minimum. They didn't "get off on a technicality." The judge in their case determined that though they had shot into a car of unarmed men 50 times and killed one of the men, they had committed no crime whatsoever. One can imagine that a jury might find that Plaxico Burress committed no crime either. After all, he apparently fired only one shot and he is not alleged to have been trying to injure anyone. Of course, no one was injured other than Plaxico Burress himself. I'd much rather have private New Yorkers shoot themselves accidentally once in a while than have the city government send four guys to shoot me 50 times (or 41 times) and kill me every once in a while.

1 comment:

  1. It is unfortunate that Mayor Bloomberg gets the opportunity to be elected for a 3rd term because he is the "only qualified" person to bring New York out of its financial crisis. One has to honestly question the wisdom in electing someone to save you from a crisis when that crisis occurred under his watch. As voters, it is your responsibility to hold Blooomberg accountable for the city's current financial landscape. It isn't enough to say that because you're a business man, you are the right man for the job. Business people also ran GM, Enron, and Washington Mutual. Those same business skills were not astute enough to protect the city from succumbing to the current crisis. Are we to believe anything different this go round from the same administration? If you couldn't get it done over two terms, what makes me believe you can get in done in three? Kind of like the argument that, if you can't get your work done in an 8 hour shift, you must be inefficient and your daily work methodoligy flawed.

    I do not live in New York, but if I did, the mayor would have to provide me with a detailed plan of how he intends to address the current financial crisis. Once he has provided me with that plan, I'd want to know why he isn't implementing that plan now. If it is such a good plan, he shouldn't have to wait until he is re-elected.

    Police violence against non-white citizens continues to be deplorable and unacceptable in our society (New York, California, anywhere USA). If I read the story correctly, the officer was shot in the back while in pursuit of a suspect. If the police shoot someone in the back in any other place than the leg, the intent was to kill. What is there to investigate here? Will this be another case where criminal intent or gross negligence of duty wasn't found? If so, no one will be surprised. The white community will praise the officers for doing the thankless and dangerous job to protect and serve. Blacks will continue to feel powerless and the target of not just criminals but of the men and blue. At some point, it becomes difficult to tell who the criminals are.

    blacks n blue

    this is for u, men in blue
    U make me wanna holla
    w/ your bluelights and shady eyes
    hidden behind dark glasses
    night stick ready to beat raw black asses
    protect the innocent
    fingers quick to pull the trigger
    lips quick to pull the ‘nigger’
    protect and serve
    protect and serve
    yet u leave me abused and scurred
    men in blue might as well be men in white. . .hoods
    blue lights flashing up to no good
    black nameless face / blue black body twitching
    beaten and / or shot.
    a modern day everyday “protected and served” lynching. - rg

    richard gipson, orlando