Mayor de Blasio has failed to end racial policing in New York City

During the afternoon of Saturday, October 25, 2014, four New York Police Department officers took into custody three people, who appeared to be teenaged kids.

Three citizen activists recorded video of portions of the interrogation and search to ensure that police did not use violence against the teenagers.  Here is one video produced by Progress Queens, edited for brevity into 4 minutes from 25 minutes of original, continuous filming.

Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned for office to end policing procedures that unconstitutionally targeted people based on race.  To communicate that message with gravitas in the over-saturated political news market in New York City, the then mayoral candidate turned to his mixed-race son, Dante de Blasio, to star in a transformational political TV ad that made people believe that the mayor was going to end policing procedures unconstitutionally based on race.  However, now that he has been in office, Mayor de Blasio has betrayed this campaign promise with his embrace of "Broken Windows" policing and his crackdown on subway artists.

At its heart, Broken Windows policing unfairly targets low-income communities and communities of color for being poor.  Despite the mayor's gestures to end the "stop-and-frisk" era, he has nonetheless embraced replacement racial tactics, like Broken Windows policing and a continuation of the Booomberg era's unrelenting pace of arrests of New Yorkers for possessing small amounts of marijuana, triggering contempt from the Editorial Board of The New York Times.  Moreover, according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, more than 80 per cent. of people arrested for non-violent marijuana possession were Black and Latino.  Critics of the city's mass incarceration approach to low-level crimes are outraged that Mayor de Blasio oversees a police department that finds it acceptable to arrest minorities as such a highly disproportionate rate.  The community is now organizing protests against the escalated arrests of subway artists and performers.  Given the administration's failures to reform policing, groups have formed to demand the resignation of NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, and other activists are demanding a new commission to investigate NYPD corruption, including at its troubled Internal Affairs Bureau.  Videos of police brutality routinely go viral on social media.  Disillusionment with Mayor de Blasio's shoddy record of police reform is growing, such that people are now openly speculating whether Mayor de Blasio, only ten months into office at City Hall, may turn out to be a failed, one-term mayor.  

As with the arrests witnessed today by citizen activists and documented in this video produced by Progress Queens, the de Blasio administration is not only failing to live up to the lofty, progressive rhetoric to which it had further professed when the mayor was inaugurated in a showy ceremony on New Year's Day, but City Hall is also failing thousands of Black and Latino men, who continue to bear the brunt of the de Blasio administration's non-stop racial policing tactics.

How many lives are being permanently ruined by the harsh and wholly-unnecessary early introduction of young teenage lives to the city's unforgiving correctional system ?  Not only are the city's never-ending racially-tinged arrests reprehensible, but the U.S. Attorney's Office has documented years of serious constitutional violations against teenage inmates at Rikers Island.  Even though the de Blasio administration knows that city correctional officers mistreat teenage inmates, the NYPD has refused to decrease its high rate of arrests of minority teenagers.  The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, has made statements to the press indicating that if the de Blasio administration does not end the city's unconstitutional treatment of teenage inmates, federal prosecutors are prepared to take the city to federal court to seek judicial relief.

Until Mayor de Blasio makes progress to bring to an end the frivolous arrest of subway artists, such as those arrested today, City Hall will not be in a position to either honor the reforms promised during each of last year's mayoral campaign and the mayor's inauguration or to meet the reforms demanded by the U.S. Attorney's Office.  Growing restless are voters, who voted for change in last year's mayoral election.

When Mayor de Blasio ran for office last year, he elevated his son, Dante, into a position of a personality to give credence to the campaign promises for police reform, the implication being that, as mayor, the father would fight for the constitutional rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of his mixed-race son.  As a City Hall intern, the son even attended an internal meeting with NYPD officials that included a review of CompStat information.  Until Mayor de Blasio sees his son's face in the crowds of people his police department arrest, he isn't going to be compelled to live up to the implicit promises he made to his own son about equality and justice.

-- Progress Queens