In remarks delivered just hours after a Staten Island grand jury decided not to press charges against NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose chokehold of Eric Garner led to Mr. Garner's death, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) invoked former President Bill Clinton's mantra : "I feel your pain."
But that isn't enough.
"It's a very emotional day for our city. It's a very painful day for so many New Yorkers," Mayor de Blasio said, in an address delivered at Mt. Sinai United Christian Church, adding, "That is the core reality. So many people in the city are feeling pain right now, and we're grieving again, over the loss of Eric Garner, who was a father, husband, a son, good man, a man, who should be with us."
Mayor de Blasio conveniently left out that the reason Mr. Garner is no longer "with us" is because of the mayor's and his police commissioner's "Broken Windows" theory of policing, that, last summer, led to a mass mobilisation by police on a campaign to crackdown on very low-level offenses, like selling loose, untaxed cigarettes, a charge that police made against Mr. Garner before he was murdered by Officer Pantaleo.
"So many people in the city are feeling pain right now," because NYPD Commissioner William Bratton's race- and income-based policing theory, known as "Broken Windows," deliberately ensnares many people of color and many people, who earn low incomes, leading to frustration, mistrust, and pain in communities of color and low-income communities, because the Broken Widows approach to policing is experienced as a state-sanctioned form of de jure discrimination.
In his remarks Wednesday night, Mayor de Blasio also repeated hash tag phrases, like "Black Lives Matter," which his speech writers have read on social media, as a way to make the mayor sound empathetic to the plight of victims of police brutality. Mayor de Blasio's empathy fabricates a notion that he feels sorry, but that there's nothing that he or the police commissioner he himself appointed could do to fix the NYPD. The disingenuous mayor refuses to acknowledge that he himself has power and authority to reset policing policy that would bring to an end police brutality.
In the time immediately following Mr. Garner's death, Mayor de Blasio defended his police commissioner, saying, "I think Bill Bratton is doing an extraordinary job."
Since before Mayor de Blasio was sworn into office, grassroots police reform activists denounced his announcement of Commissioner Bratton's return to the helm of the NYPD and have been calling for Commissioner Bratton's resignation ever since.
In spite of a spree of incidents when police brutalized a senior citizen for jay walking, brutalized young Black men for riding MTA buses, and brutalized pregnant ladies and grandmothers, Mayor de Blasio has continued to defend Commissioner Bratton's "Broken Windows" theory of policing, even in the immediate aftermath of Mr. Garner's chokehold homicide, shocking the conscious of average New Yorkers.
On the morning after the Staten Island grand jury rendered its decision, Mayor de Blasio took to the Hot 97 radio station, to express words of sympathy that let the mayor and his police commissioner off the hook for being accountable for the NYPD's misconduct.
"None of what I say is going to bring back Eric Garner," Mayor de Blasio said in the radio interview Thursday morning.
But there is still a lot that the mayor can do, to help prevent the NYPD killings of other unarmed, innocent men : Mayor de Blasio can begin by firing Commissioner Bratton and by following that up with the appointment of an independent, investigatory commission with the power to prosecute its own cases of NYPD misconduct.
There is precedent for firing Commissioner Bratton : he's been founding wanting before. There is also precedent for appointing an independent commission : two mayors have previously done so, but they stopped short of giving the commission prosecutorial powers. Any new commission must have the authority to independently prosecute its own cases, which would solve the conflicts of interest at the city's district attorneys' offices, which are opposed to prosecuting police misconduct and corruption cases, because the district attorneys work too closely together.
Mayor de Blasio's words of sorrow also belie the fact that the mayor could have prevented the unnecessary deaths of unarmed, innocent men, if only he had neither first appointed Commissioner Bratton nor supported his "Broken Windows" theory of policing. More and more influential New Yorkers are spreading the word of Mayor de Blasio's duplicity.
Some protest signs held up last night rightly asserted that Mayor de Blasio had blood on his hands. Whilst it's true that Officer Pantaleo's hands were those that were around Mr. Garner's neck, the mess that the city, the NYPD, communities of color, and low-income communities find themselves in have Mayor de Blasio's fingerprints all over them.
-- Progress Queens