Mike, Do Something
July 16, 2012
In the brouhaha over Ray Kelly’s charge that minority leaders who decry Stop-and-Frisk are “shockingly silent” about violence in their own communities, the one person who should be speaking out has also been shockingly silent: Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
How does Mayor Mike allow his police commissioner to, in effect, accuse the city’s black leadership of lacking “outrage” over recent shooting rampages that killed three black men and wounded a three-year-old Hispanic boy?
Does Bloomberg’s silence signal he agrees with Kelly?
Or is Bloomberg afraid or unable to control his police commissioner?
If so, it’s a fear of his own making since this mayor has granted more power to Kelly than any other police commissioner has ever had in the city’s history.
And, with his silence, the mayor has once again, when it comes to police matters, abdicated his responsibilities.
The police commissioner’s job is to develop and implement crime strategies. It is not to criticize elected city officials. That’s the mayor’s job.
No other city commissioner could make these remarks and keep his position.
Bloomberg managed to get through the week without answering questions about Kelly’s outburst. His only public remarks came on Friday to radio host John Gambling when the mayor tried to sidetrack the issue and said, “No one has done more to improve community and police relations than Ray Kelly.”
Kelly spared from his criticisms the world’s foremost racial arsonist-turned-racial statesman — his longtime friend, Al Sharpton. [That is, if you believe police spokesman Paul Browne’s claim that Kelly befriended Sharpton when Kelly walked a beat in Harlem and Sharpton was a shaver living in Brooklyn.]
Sure enough, just as Mayor Mike prepared to wing off for the weekend to Bermuda or wherever he can relax in his nanny outfits, the Rev put out a typically self-promoting [albeit grammatically incorrect] press release, suggesting that he might help New York City hold its equivalent of a beer summit. Who knows? It’s an election year. Maybe President Obama will turn up.
“Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, one of the main organizers of the mass stop-and-frisk march down Fifth Avenue in New York City last month, are [sic] seeking a meeting with opponents of stop-and-frisk policing and Police Commissioner Kelly who cited National Action Network as working against violence in the community,” the press release read.
This turn of events is quite a change from Kelly’s first run as police commissioner two decades ago under the city’s first black mayor, David Dinkins.
Then, Kelly traveled to black churches every Sunday to recruit black police officers, and many black New Yorkers regarded him as a hero.
When a black man named Colin Ferguson went on a rampage in 1993, shooting 25 white commuters on a Long Island Railroad train, he carried papers saying he had waited until the train crossed the city line into Nassau County “because of my respect for Mayor David Dinkins and Commissioner Raymond Kelly.”
Under Dinkins, Kelly supported “community policing,” which downplayed muscular police tactics and emphasized police interaction with local communities — policies supported by some of those black leaders whom Kelly recently criticized.
Unfortunately for Dinkins and community policing, crime ran up dramatically, with murders the highest in city history, leading to the famed New York Post headline: “Dave, Do Something.”
Since his return as police commissioner in 2002, Kelly has avoided anything bearing the slightest resemblance to community policing.
Rather, he has continued the get-tough tactics of his sworn enemies — Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who fired Kelly, and William Bratton, who succeeded him as police commissioner. Those policies reduced crime to record-breaking levels.
Kelly’s signature crime policy has become Stop-and-Frisk, which resulted last year in 685,000 stops, virtually all of young black and Hispanic males. Meanwhile crime continued to fall to even lower levels than under Giuliani.
Kelly and Bloomberg even continued the Giuliani sophistry — based on statistics the FBI has acknowledged are misleading — that New York is “the safest large city in America” [See NYPD Confidential Nov. 18, 2005.]
These days, though, Kelly is having a hard time fighting crime. A series of judicial decisions at both the state and federal level has undercut Stop-and-Frisk. Judges have recently ordered the release of people whom police stopped and who were carrying guns, maintaining the stops were illegal.
Then came the July 4th holiday shooting rampage, amidst statistics that murders and shootings had also spiked.
After taking credit for ten years of crime declines, Kelly seemed unable to control the uptick, other than to blame others — in this case the city’s black leadership.
Brooklyn Assemblyman and soon-to-be Congressman Hakeem Jeffries said that it was “unnecessarily divisive for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to cast blame on others who do not have direct responsibility for the safety of our city.”
Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams said, “Unfortunately, he [Kelly] is shockingly silent on the ineffectiveness of the current policy he has, which, by his own numbers, are not being effective.”
Perhaps the most interesting comment came from Brooklyn State Senator Eric Adams, a former police captain, who has said that his son was stopped by police for no other reason than that he was black and that Kelly gave as the reason for such stops: “to instill fear of the police.”
There’s been bad blood between Kelly and Adams since 2005 when Adams criticized Bloomberg for using a terror scare to avoid debating his mayoral opponent Freddy Ferrer, and Kelly retaliated by trying to block Adams’s police pension.
Last week, Adams invited Kelly ditch his gun and security detail and take an O.K. Corral-like stroll with him through a black neighborhood. [Kelly declined.]
The truth in all this seems like a zero-sum game. You either agree with Kelly that the leaders of the black community have failed it or you blame Kelly for not coming up with an effective crime deterrent. [If he can’t get kids with guns off the streets legally, then maybe it’s time to bring in someone who can.]
Still, something positive may derive from Kelly’s “outrage” outburst, Bloomberg’s silence and weekend vanishing act notwithstanding.
Maybe his comments will stir a public debate on a related subject that nobody dares mention: black-on-black crime — what Benjamin Ward, the city’s first black police commissioner called “our dirty little secret.”
Many blacks are embarrassed by it. Many whites are afraid to discuss it for fear of being called “racist.”
If nothing else, perhaps Kelly’s outburst will foster such a discussion.
Perhaps, the Rev’s mediation might even lead to an honest public debate.
Like Nixon, whose right-wing credentials enabled him to recognize Communist China, perhaps the Rev., with his race-baiting past, may be the man to do it.
Schumer: Bob, I have a favor to ask of you. I need you to call Ray Kelly.
Mueller: What’s up, Senator?
Schumer: I’d rather Kelly tell you himself.
Mueller: Well, just tell him to call me.
Schumer. You know how he is, Bob. He wants you to call him. He needs your help.
Mueller: If he needs my help, why doesn’t he call me?
Schumer: O.K., look, it’s that graffiti guy. Lewy BTM. The one who tagged his name on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Mueller: Oh, yes. That’s pretty funny.
Schumer: It’s not so funny, Bob.
Mueller: Well, Ray has been saying for years that he prevented a terrorist attack on the Brooklyn Bridge. Now he says he has the bridge guarded day and night. But he can’t stop a graffiti guy? Yes, Senator, I would say that’s pretty funny.
Schumer: Well, Ray doesn’t think it’s funny. He wants your help to capture this Lewy. He wants a full-scale joint NYPD and FBI investigation. He’s bringing back his detectives from overseas to help hunt Lewy down.
Mueller : Senator, why don’t you tell Ray to just calm down.
Schumer: Bob, it’s not that simple. Ray is furious that this Lewy embarrassed him. He told Peter King that when he catches Lewy, he is going to water-board him.
Mueller: [sound of laughter] O.K., Senator, what exactly do you want me to do?
Schumer: I want you tell Ray that he is nuts. That he has rocks in his head. That maybe he has been in this job too long.
Mueller: Why don’t you tell him yourself, Senator?
Schumer: Me? Are you kidding, Bob? I’m scared stiff of Ray. Besides, he’s stopped returning my calls. I nominated Judge Nelson Roman of the state’s Appellate Division for a federal judgeship. He’s one of the judges who threw out that Stop and Frisk case — releasing a 14-year-old boy who was arrested for carrying a loaded gun.
Mueller: O.K., then, why don’t you call Mayor Bloomberg and tell him to fire Ray?
Schumer: Bob, I don’t think you understand. Bloomberg’s even more afraid of Ray than I am.
Copyright © 2012 Leonard Levitt