There was a time when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended a meeting at the White House, where President Barack Obama asked Rev. Al Sharpton and former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to spearhead a national bipartisan education initiative.
It was a show of solidarity; a great moment proving that no matter what people’s personal political views were, they could come together on important issues. Unfortunately, it looks like those days are long gone for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Two weeks ago, the City Council of N.Y.C. passed long-awaited police oversight bills that would finally bring some accountability to discriminatory practices, such as “stop & frisk.” The Mayor not only went on a tirade against the ruling, but he then criticized Rev. Sharpton for not doing enough to help others. And according to sources cited in major news outlets, Bloomberg might even use his billions to stop the re-election of council members that voted for these bills.
Last time I checked, we don’t live in a dictatorship and one billionaire should not be able to overrule the will of the majority. It’s a democracy after all.
Everyone knows that New York is one of the most diverse places on the planet. There are people here from literally all over the world. But what visitors might not know is that life for many Blacks and Latinos in this city is very different than the bright lights of Times Square.
Due to policies like stop & frisk, many young Blacks and Latinos walk around in a virtual state of fear from those that are hired to protect them. They are profiled, stopped, searched, harassed, and treated like criminals. They’re forced to show IDs and answer questions even if they’re doing simple things like walking down the street.
And that is a concept Mayor Bloomberg will never understand.
He’s not constantly targeted, he’s not asked to prove that he lives in front of the building he’s innocently standing in front of, he’s not asked to empty his pockets because he looks threatening, he’s not told to prove that the car he’s driving in fact belongs to him, and he’s not forced to second-guess the way he walks or talks for fear of being profiled.
I’m not saying all cops are bad or that all cops do this, but it is a reality – just look at the data.
We at National Action Network (NAN) care deeply about these issues, just like we care deeply about quality education, lack of jobs, poverty, gun violence, and more. Rev. Sharpton and NAN hold weekly rallies at our headquarters in Harlem. We conduct gun buyback programs and anti-violence events. We gather members of the community and civic leaders to “Occupy the Corners” in troubled neighborhoods of this city where we encourage people to seek nonviolent resolutions to their conflicts.
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