[Speaking Truth To Power]
On Friday, in a stunningly insensitive and borderline racist statement, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a moment of undignified arrogance reportedly claimed the New York Police Department (NYPD) “disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.”
The mayor should explain to us how he arrived at such a curious conclusion—given the fact Blacks and Latinos are stopped nearly 90 percent of the times by the NYPD?
Perhaps, the mayor thinks the NYPD should be frisking our senior citizens too.
Last week was not a good one for the mayor and the racist Stop-and-Frisk profiling program of his NYPD. In a historic vote, the New York City Council passed the Community Safety Act to deter the NYPD from continuing this practice that has arbitrarily and continually violated the Fourth Amendment rights of Blacks and Latinos in New York City.
The two bills were spearheaded by Councilman Jumaane Williams and Councilman Brad Lander, both of Brooklyn. The legislation would institute an inspector general to oversee the actions of the NYPD, as is done in many law enforcement agencies across the country and would make it easier for citizens to launch lawsuits if they felt they were profiled.
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly both criticized the legislation arguing that an inspector general was unnecessary and that the courts would become clogged with lawsuits. The mayor also suggested lawyers would reap mountains of money; unwittingly he was conceded that many of the cases would have merit.
However, the City Council passed the legislation on Thursday by a veto-proof majority for the IG post. For the bill allowing the law suits, the mayor needs to peel off one lawmaker to be able to veto it; there are indications that he will try to use his wealth
Upset by this repudiation of his Stop-and-Frisk police policy, the mayor took to the airwaves to complain on Friday.
This newspaper has published several of my columns, very critical of the disproportionate targeting of African Americans and Latinos through Stop-and-Frisk. Perhaps more than any other publication.
In a possibly veiled attack on the Black Star News, the mayor said “One newspaper and one news service, they just keep saying, ‘Oh, it’s a disproportionate percentage of a particular ethnic group.’ That may be. But it’s not a disproportionate percentage of those who witnesses and victims describe as committing the murders.” The mayor also claimed “In that case, incidentally, I think, we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” the mayor said. “It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course, or a logic course.”
To say Friday wasn’t the mayor’s finest hour would be an understatement. If the mayor has any shred of respect for Blacks and Latinos, he would man up and take responsibility by apologizing posthaste as Reverend Al Sharpton has asked him to.
It was bad enough, last week, when Commissioner Kelly likening African Americans to Al-Qaeda terrorists. African Americans have been the most patriotic Americans — many fell in overseas wars even while there was still official segregation in this country.
We must ask this of the mayor and commissioner: gentlemen have you no shame at all?
How in the world can this mayor say White people were stopped too much when they were stopped less than 10% of the time in over 700,000 in one recent year—in a city where Whites are still the racial majority? The mayor’s and his minions are now being duplicitous with the numbers by saying while Whites were only identified as murder suspects 7 percent of the time and yet were stopped 9 percent of time.
This is nothing more than a desperate disingenuous attempt to muddy the waters. You wonder how many people were involved in concocting this spin? It would be great if we could get a hold of their notes or even recordings of the conversations.
The mayor can pretend if he wants that Stop-and-Frisk is a program aimed at identifying murder suspects. Incidentally, if that were the case it would be and even bigger failure at apprehending murder suspects than it has been in arresting those carrying guns and contraband.
In December, 2012, The Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the plaintiffs in the recent Floyd v. City of New York trial, released a report after analyzing Stop-and-Frisk data from January 2010 through June 2012.
In one of the findings The Center highlighted that “Only 6% of stops result in arrest, an extraordinarily small number given that stops are legally supposed to be based on reasonable, articulable suspicion. The rates of seizure of weapons or contraband are miniscule – .12% of stops yield gun seizures and 1.8% contraband – and are lower than the seizure rates of random stops.”
If the mayor is justifying stopping Blacks and Latinos 90 percent of the time based on, supposed, witness identification of murder suspects—who he says are being identified as Black or Latino 90 percent of the time—then, why doesn’t he tell us how many murder suspects were apprehended by this formula?
It’s a malicious slur because the mayor was playing on the stereotype of the Black-male-as-predicate-murderer.
During the mayor’s meltdown, he criticized those of us in media who he said “certainly didn’t take a math course, or, a logic course.” Well, as a billionaire businessman, perhaps, Mr. Bloomberg can enlighten us by clearing up our fuzzy math.
According to a 2012 report, by the New York City Public Advocate, Whites were found with drugs and guns more often in less stops compared to Latinos and Blacks.
The data shows Whites were found with contraband in one out of every 43 stops—compared to every 57 stops for Latinos and every 61 stops for African-Americans. It should be pointed out here that New York City is now known as the “marijuana arrest capitol of the world” due to the high volume of arrests of Blacks and Latinos for small amounts of marijuana.
And while other reports, besides that of the Public Advocate, have pointed out Whites use marijuana on a comparable level as Blacks and Latinos—although, some sources maintain Whites use it more—the NYPD does not target Whites like they target Black and Latinos for arrests. And, according to the mayor Whites should be targeted even less.
More importantly, however, the analysis done by the Public Advocate shows: Whites were found with guns more often—even though they were stopped less. Whites were found with a weapon once every 49 stops—compared to once every 71 stops for Latinos and once every 93 stops for African-Americans.
Remember, Whites represent the largest racial group in New York City. This of course begs the obvious question: if Whites are found with both drugs and guns at a higher rate than Blacks or Latinos, in fewer stops, how can the mayor tell us Whites are stopped too much? We could sure benefit from the mayor’s exalted logic here.
The awful truth is the mayor’s thoughtlessly insensitive remarks underscores the challenges of racism and economic injustice African-Americans and Latinos must face in New York City against those who use privilege and power to impoverish and disenfranchise those who don’t look like them.
Consider this: Mayor Bloomberg tells Reverend Sharpton he should be “helping kids in the city.” He also lamented “It’s sad he got away from that, became a television star and doesn’t seem to focus on the kids who just don’t have the education that they need to compete and don’t have a structured family at home that can help.”
The Big rich bwana mourning for these poor kids whom only Sharpton could rescue. Isn’t he the mayor of New York City? How many jobs has he created for these kids he’s now shedding crocodile tears for?
Reverend Sharpton—unlike Bloomberg—is not an elected official. Where are the mayor’s programs to help the vulnerable kids and families of New York City? Where are his educational programs? Where are the community revitalization programs?
Mayor Bloomberg as a financially successful American of Jewish descent who should’ve had a zero-tolerance policy in regard to bigotry in his government—he could’ve been a special mayor.
He could’ve been a bridge-builder between Whites and Blacks. Instead, history will judge Mr. Bloomberg as just another wealthy opportunist who degraded democracy in New York City by buying a third term in office.
He’s governed over a period where prejudice was promoted within the NYPD with devastating effects upon New York City’s most disenfranchised people.