Tag: DeBlasio

A Ray of Hope

Today, for the first time in a long time, I want to post something that’s a little optimistic. Living at ground zero in Brooklyn as I do, I don’t see these demonstrations as a shock to the system. While the looting is unfortunate, the police violence horrific, and DeBlasio’s meltdown pathetic, the protests themselves feel very cathartic in, to borrow Mattis’s weirdly apt word, a “wholesome” way.

It’s been a hellish three years, and an even more hellish three months. Something had to give way and it has. All of these documented examples of police violence that are surfacing—the old man in Buffalo yesterday, the girl they were kicking somewhere else, the journalists being clubbed in Brooklyn—have been a revelation to white America. They were to me. So were Trump’s and Cotton’s declarations of war.

It’s been more than fifty years since rioting broke out in Newark and spread across the country after the police beat a black taxi driver. The long hot summer of 1967 and then the student disturbances in 1968 felt like a terminal spasm of the liberal consensus–the end of the New Frontier and the Great Society. The unrest today feels more like a therapeutic blood-letting. A lot of terrible things can happen between now and November and they undoubtedly will. The pandemic has yet to peak; Trump has lots more mischief up his sleeve. But the boil has been lanced; maybe soon the fever will break too.

No, It’s Not Giuliani Time

A lot of the news stories I’ve been reading and watching about the NYPD’s war with DeBlasio imply that the city at large is part of the backlash too, that he is as good as going the way of Dinkins. Dinkins, lest we forget, was even less popular with the police than DeBlasio is. On September 16, 1992, off-duty police officers gathered at City Hall to protest his refusal to give them automatic weapons and his appointment of a panel to investigate police corruption. “‘He never supports us on anything,'” Officer Tara Fanning of the Midtown South Precinct told The New York Times’s James McKinley, Jr. “‘A cop shoots someone with a gun who’s a drug dealer, and he goes and visits the family.'” Afterwards, thousands of them ran amok on the Brooklyn Bridge, blocking traffic, denting cars, and assaulting reporters, while on-duty officers stood by and did nothing.

But let’s look at the numbers. According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, 62 percent of the NYPD resides within the city limits — a comparatively high figure compared to, say, LA, where only 23 percent of police do, or Miami, Florida, where just 7 percent of cops are residents.

“But there’s a stark racial divide,” the article (dated August, 2014) continues. “Seventy-seven percent of black New York police officers live in the city, and 76 percent of Hispanic ones do, but the same is true for only 45 percent of white officers.” 53 percent of the approximately 35,000 officers in the NYPD are white, according to Wikipedia. Even if all of them hate DeBlasio, they only account for 8347 votes–the equivalent, say, of about a third of the population of Brooklyn Heights, just one of the city’s 177 neighborhoods.

Granted, Giuliani wasn’t swept into office in 1993 by angry cops alone, but those demographics are telling. The city has changed in the last two decades. It’s a lot less violent, for one thing — and a lot more of its middle class are people of color. Stop-and-frisk might have played well in the suburbs, but outside of Staten Island and the offices of the New York Post, there hasn’t been much of a clamor to bring it back in the city. The white backlash is real, but it’s much more powerful in the suburbs and in the media whose consumers live in the suburbs. Though De Blasio’s brand might not be exactly booming, I suspect much the same is true of the DeBlasio backlash.