John Osborn, noted for diversity, lauds divisive Bratton, supporter of discriminatory Broken Windows policing


One of New York's power brokers, who on Monday gave controversial New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton a "thunderous standing ovation," was John Osborn, according to an item in Page Six of The New York Post.

Mr. Osborn is president of the Police Athletic League, the nonprofit that organized the luncheon at which Commissioner Bratton was unexpectedly celebrated.  Mr. Osborn is also president of the powerhouse New York advertising agency, BBDO.

The Page Six item noted that the power brokers at the Police Athletic League luncheon had greeted Commissioner Bratton with an ovation, but, in contrast, Mayor de Blasio was just warmly received.  Mayor de Blasio is currently engulfed in a public relations disaster over conflict between grassroots police reform advocates, who are demanding an overhaul at the NYPD, including an end to the use of the neoconservative and discriminatory "Broken Windows" approach to policing and the resignation of Commissioner Bratton ; and the police unions, who resent Mayor de Blasio for not defending the beleaguered NYPD, even after two police officers were killed in an unprovoked attack on Saturday.  The contrast in receptions between Commissioner Bratton and Mayor de Blasio conveyed that big business interestest were siding with Commissioner Bratton in the public feud between the police and City Hall.

That Police Athletic League President Osborn would choose to side with Commissioner Bratton seemingly puts him at odds with his reported support for diversity, given that Commissioner Bratton's unwavering support for the NYPD's Broken Windows approach to policing is what may largely be responsible for the perception that the NYPD is a racist police force, given that the underpinning of the NYPD's tactics deliberately target low income communities and communities of color.  

Eight years ago, Mr. Osborn created a diversity council at his advertising agency, something that the agency uses to self-congratulate itself for its emphasis on race, ethnicity, and gender.  

“We cannot do what we do without diversity,” Mr. Osborn is reported to have said.

However, Commissioner Bratton's Broken Windows approach to policing has been blamed for making criminals out of the poor and minorities.

"The result of this approach has been the mass criminalization of the poor, who in New York City are overwhelmingly people of color," wrote Alex Vitale, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, in The Gotham Gazette.

Further, an analysis of Broken Windows policing by The New York Daily News showed that, "roughly 81% of the 7.3 million people hit with violations between 2001 and 2013 were black and Hispanic."

An attempt to reach Mr. Osborn through BBDO's public relations office was unsuccessful.  BBDO's offices are closed between Christmas and New Year's Day.

Amongst BBDO's advertising clients are Bank of America, FedEx, HBO, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, and Sony.  

Pepsico had to pull a controversial commercial for Mountain Dew that some said stereotyped Black men as violent criminals, and Starbucks has faced criticisms of lacking racial sensitivity over the use of caricatures to represent the names of Asian customers

In recent years, beginning with the unjustified NYPD shooting death of Ramarley Graham in 2013, police reform advocates have escalated complaints that the NYPD shoots to kill innocent or unarmed people of color, even the mentally-ill, rather than to take them alive into police custody.  Mr. Graham, Akai Gurley, and Calvin Peters were each shot and killed with just one bullet each, raising concerns that police just aim to shoot to kill.  Another man, Eric Garner, was placed in a chokehold by a police officer, resulting in Mr. Garner's death, which the city's medical examiner's office later ruled was a homicide.

According to another analysis by The New York Daily News, the NYPD have been involved in 179 on-duty, police-involved fatalities over a period of last 15 years.

Other power brokers at the Police Athletic League luncheon included the lobbyists Bradley Gerstman and David Schwartz, both from the firm, Gotham Government Relations.

Ironically, the Police Athletic League is the official, designated charity of the NYPD, intended to offer assistance and programming to at-risk youths.