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The Great Divider

December 29, 2014

Even if you view cops’ turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as rude, disrespectful and unprofessional, the mayor has only himself to blame.

Worse, he still doesn’t get it.

At a news conference at Police Plaza last week he took no responsibility for the city’s deepening, largely racial, divide. Instead, he blamed “you guys” — the media.

A year into his mayoralty, he doesn’t see that his actions speak as loudly as his words. Let’s examine some of them.

All the world has witnessed his embrace of Al Sharpton, the most polarizing figure in the city. At a City Hall event last summer, supposedly to help unify the city following the “chokehold” death of Eric Garner, the mayor symbolically elevated the former FBI informant, current tax cheat and racial rabble rouser as the equal of Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Since then, the mayor has continued to court the Rev. Unless we missed it, the mayor has never called Sharpton on his lies in the Tawana Brawley case, his anti-Semitic pronouncements during the Crown Heights riots, or his stoking the firebomb and mass murder/suicide of the Jewish-owned Freddy”s Fashion Mart in Harlem.

Instead, attending the Rev’s 60th birthday party in October, the mayor described him as the nation’s preeminent civil rights figure and “a blessing for this city.”

“The more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him,” the mayor said.

Let’s also examine the mayor’s “case closed” reluctance to fire Sharpton’s spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger, as his wife, Chirlane McCray’s, $170,000-a-year chief of staff.

The mayor seemed to shrug off the arrests — past and present — of Noerdlinger’s live-in boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan. The mayor also shrugged off McFarlan’s and Noerdlinger’s 17-year-old son Khari’s anti-police postings in which they both called cops “pigs.” Khari tweeted: “I’m convinced all white people are the devil.”

Nor did de Blasio publicly address McFarlan’s $900 in parking tickets, some of which he racked up while chauffeuring Noerdlinger to and from work.

Only after Khari was arrested for trespassing at a known drug location in the Bronx did Noerdlinger resign. That’s when the case was closed.

Next, let’s turn to de Blasio’s whopping $40-million Central Park Jogger settlement to the five non-white teenagers [four black and one Hispanic] who served years in prison after they were falsely convicted of raping the white female jogger 25 years ago.

No case has fanned the city’s racial flames higher than this one. Complicating the settlement was the fact that the night the jogger was raped, the five were assaulting others in the park. In addition, each of their confessions to the police and prosecutors implicated the others in beating the jogger, literally to an inch of her life.

To win such cases, plaintiffs must prove they were not merely convicted wrongfully but that the police and/or prosecutors acted willfully: in the jogger case, that they convicted the five teenagers, knowing they were innocent.

Other than the wishful thinking of their attorneys and the filmmaker Ken Burns, there was no evidence of this. In fact, in its settlement, the city specifically stated that neither the police nor the prosecutors had acted wrongly.

So why the huge payout? To this date, de Blasio has offered no explanation other than saying: “As a city, we have a moral obligation to right this injustice.”

Then there was de Blasio’s recent announcement that he had warned his son Dante about the dangers of dealing with the NYPD.

“Because of a history that still hangs over us [and] the dangers that he may face, we’ve had to literally train him as families have all over this city for decades in how to take special care in any encounter he has with police officers, who are there to protect him. …

“There’s so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods, but are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in, as their protectors? That’s the reality.”

Surely any father can sympathize with de Blasio. And let’s get real: a black teenager or adult is more likely to encounter trouble from the police than a white teenager or adult.

Yet as he had done during his mayoral campaign, it sounded as though the mayor were using Dante as another paid political announcement to appeal to his African-American constituency.

That led PBA President Patrick Lynch to say that the mayor was throwing police officers “under the bus” and to say that de Blasio would not be welcome at any future police funeral.

Finally there are the anti-police demonstrations.

Before they began, Bratton announced that protesters wouldn’t be allowed to take over the city — its roadways or the Brooklyn Bridge. Instead, [perhaps at de Blasio’s direction?], he allowed them to do just that.

As the police historian Tom Reppetto, a former Chicago police commander, wrote in the NY Post, “It’s been my experience that when police allow demonstrators to break laws, the results are invariably bad.”

Indeed they were. A group of marchers were seen on TV, shouting, “What do we want? Dead cops!” Other marchers attacked two police lieutenants on the Brooklyn Bridge, and beat them to the ground.

The initial response of de Blasio's press office was to describe the attacks as "alleged."

During the mayoral campaign, de Blasio’s mantra was a “tale of two cities.” In his first year as mayor, he has become The Great Divider.

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