By LOUIS FLORES
As a public relations crisis threatens to engulf the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) following the unprovoked shooting death of two New York Police Department officers on Saturday, Mayor de Blasio has called for a suspension of protests that have over-run the streets of New York City in which activists have demanded an overhaul of the NYPD.
In remarks made Monday at the December luncheon at the Police Athletic League, Mayor de Blasio said that civic leaders, activists, and police union officials needed to address the needs of the families of the two fallen police officers.
"I think it's important that -- regardless of people's viewpoints -- that everyone recognises that it's time to step back and just focus on these families," Mayor de Blasio said, adding, "I think it's a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time. But, in the coming days, two families prepare for funerals. Two families try to think about how to piece their lives back together. That should be our only concern : How do we support them ?"
On social media, police reform activists reacted with scorn and outrage at Mayor de Blasio's call for a suspension to the police reform movement.
In spite of Mayor de Blasio's call on Monday afternoon for a suspension of all protests, some peaceful protests nevertheless continued Monday night, including at Grand Central Terminal.
The City Hall press office did not answer a question posed to it by Progress Queens about the continuation of the peaceful protests in spite of Mayor de Blasio's directive.
The recent protests demanding an overhaul to of the NYPD and its policing tactics began after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo used an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner last July, leading to Mr. Garner's death, which the medical examiner's office ruled to be a homicide. The protests escalated after the shooting deaths by police of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Akai Gurley in Brooklyn, and have only grown after separate grand juries voted not to bring criminal charges against Officer Pantaleo and Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson, the latter officer, who shot and killed Mr. Brown. Each of Mr. Garner, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Gurley were unarmed at the time they were murdered by police officers. Police reform activists across the nation have mobilised in the wake of these tragic police-involved homicides to demand reforms to law enforcement and the larger criminal justice system.
In New York, veal pen politics have encumbered some police reform organizations to low-ball demands for reforms, especially those made by nonprofit reform groups with ties to Mayor de Blasio's lobbying and consulting firms, or by other groups with close ties to one of the mayor's key political allies, the Rev. Al Sharpton. These groups make nominal demands for reform, such as calling for an end to the NYPD's use of a neoconservative and discriminatory theory of policing known as "Broken Windows."
Thus far, however, only a handful of individual activists and one grassroots reform group, New Yorkers Against Bratton, are calling on Mayor de Blasio to go further than just ending Broken Windows by replacing NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, who is one of the chief proponents of the NYPD's use of Broken Windows policing. Still yet other activists are calling for a new commission with powers to independently investigate and prosecute cases of police corruption and misconduct, which would come on top of other demands for reform.
As activists press Mayor de Blasio for police reforms, the political realities of real estate may help to explain why Mayor de Blasio refuses to deliver on a full overhaul of the NYPD and its most controversial policing tactics, which are based on the Broken Windows worldview.
In an essay published in The Wall Street Journal, Commissioner Bratton and George Kelling co-authored a screed in defense of the Broken Windows theory of policing, which Mr. Kelling is credited with co-developing.
The essay revealed that a modern financial motivation pushing Broken Windows policing is the financial incentive to further gentrify New York City real estate and to increase profits for real estate developers and investors.
"Property values have escalated. It’s a good place to live and work," the two men wrote.
Mr. Kelling is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank with close ties to New York City's right-wing, big business billionaires in the finance and real estate industries. The Manhattan Institute is a significant institutional supporter of Broken Windows and was the target of a recent protest over its very support of the discriminatory policing tactic.
Other questions presented to City Hall's press office about the origin of Mayor de Blasio's neoconservative embrace of Broken Windows policing tactics were not answered. However, Mayor de Blasio has publicly defending Broken Windows policing, even in the tragic wake of Mr. Garner's murder. Furthermore, contrary to Broken Windows' deliberate targeting of people based on race and income, one of Mayor de Blasio's other chief political supporters, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, remarkably stated that she thought that race had nothing to do with Mr. Garner's chokehold homicide.
Mayor de Blasio won the primary election in 2013 by using a Super PAC to thwart the campaign of his main political rival, Christine Quinn and by denying Bill Thompson, the leading Black candidate in the race, the endorsement of Rev. Al Sharpton, thereby undercutting Mr. Thompson's vote with Blacks in the power centers up in Harlem and over in central Brooklyn, leading to Mr. Thompson's primary race concession due to an inept Board of Elections. After the primary win by concession, some big money donors within the real estate industry and its lobbyists opened up their deep pockets to finance Mayor de Blasio's general election win, explaining why then mayor-elect de Blasio chose a real estate industry-approved commissioner for the NYPD. To obscure these machinations, Mayor de Blasio masqueraded as a progressive politician, raising expectations that he would deliver on real reforms, especially at the NYPD, but a rude awakening is jarring true, grassroots reform activists, as they confront Mayor de Blasio's duplicity in calling or a suspension in the police reform protests -- just as the movement approaches historic reform breakthroughs.
Commissioner Bratton once served as police commissioner under the first Giuliani administration, rolling out his Broken Windows approach to policing in the early 1990's, which led to a resurgence in the New York City real estate market for the city's major real estate developers. The finance and real estate industries benefitted from the creation of this wealth, and they want to see it continue, even though Broken Windows policing's impact is known to be discriminatory and, at times, deadly.
As police reform activists demand each for an end to Broken Windows policing tactics and for the resignation of Commissioner Bratton, activists have achieved the profound milestone of having formed a majority public opinion in the fight for justice, as reflected in an opinion poll that showed that Americans by a three-to-one margin believed that Officer Pantaelo should have faced charges in Mr. Garner's chokehold homicide. With majority public opinion on their side, some activists are confronting the disquieting reality that perhaps Mayor de Blasio needs to be pressured into delivering on his campaign promises to reform the NYPD.
"I think the movement has to take on the political institutions, in general. Regardless of what Pat Lynch, Rev. Sharpton, or others have to say, we have to go after the people, who set policy," said Josmar Trujillo, an organizer with the group, New Yorkers Against Bratton, referring to Mr. Lynch, who is the president of the largest union of NYPD officers, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association.
"We have to take on the progressives and the Democrats and expose their relationships, the ones who benefit from Broken Windows, which ties into gentrification," Mr. Trujillo said, adding that, "Broken Windows is the key. It is the most contradictory policy of this mayor. You can't reform the NYPD and still support Broken Windows, which underpins the policing policy of the last 20 years."
According to an analysis by Progress Queens of the modern New York City police reform movement, activists have advanced their cause into Stage 6 of the MAP Model for social movement organising. Given that activists are very close to their goal of exacting reforms from City Hall and from the NYPD, this is exactly when opponents of social movement reforms escalate their efforts to block activists' success. Mayor de Blasio's duplicitous call for the suspension of protests acts in the best interests of his big money donors, who would like to see the police reform movement derailed from achieving their goals of dismantling the NYPD's discriminatory Broken Windows policing tactics and for the resignation of one of its chief proponents, Commissioner Bratton. Talk of creating a temporary, independent prosecutor to oversee cases of police corruption and misconduct have quietly faded, and no elected official has yet found the courage to call for the creation of a new commission to both investigate and prosecute police corruption and misconduct, a precedent for which was partly set in the Knapp and Mollen commissions of decades ago.
As it stands, some activists are already seeing through Mayor de Blasio's call for a suspension of protests, which flies in the face of the fact that City Hall has not called for a suspension in the NYPD's use of deadly force, which has claimed at least 179 lives over the last 15 years.