By LOUIS FLORES
Music mogul Russell Simmons attacked Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) last Thursday during an interview on Hot 97 FM, calling the mayor a “punk,” a “bitch,” and a “mouse” for failing to press for reforms in how police officers are kept accountable for officer-involved cases of brutality that lead to murder.
During the interview, Mr. Simmons repeated his call for the appointment of special prosecutors to handle cases of officer-involved crimes, saying on Thursday about the goals of police reform, “There’s a few things you can do that are action-oriented. One is to get special prosecutors, separate from the police department, and that’s critical.”
Mr. Simmons said during the interview that he believed that Mayor de Blasio had subjugated himself to the police department, saying, “Right, he’s beholden to the police.”
Progress Queens made a request for an interview with the City Hall press office. However, in continuing with the press office’s media blackout of news outlets critical of the de Blasio administration, the press office declined to make an administration official available for an interveiw.
About the way that the city’s district attorneys appeared to give preferential treatment to police officers, Mr. Simmons said, “If your brother killed somebody, you bury the body. That’s what the D.A.’s are doing all over this country. Except for the fact that we have so many of these shootings on camera, they’ve been getting away with murdering Black people forever.”
About Mayor de Blasio’s subjugation to NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, Mr. Simmons noted that, “Our police commissioner is bullying our punk mayor that we worked so hard to put into office. He knows his kids are at risk. He knows that if a cop shoots his kid, and there’s no footage, that cop’s not getting charged,” adding that, “And that’s because there are no special prosecutors.”
About the special prosecutors, who should be tasked with investigating and trying cases against police officers, Mr. Simmons said, “They should be independent prosecutors, who don’t work for the police, who have to look at these cases individually.”
During the interview, Mr. Simmons said that Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) had failed to live up to his promises of appointing special prosecutors, adding that Governor Cuomo is not using the full extent of his official authorities in the realm of appointing special prosecutors, saying, “The governor can appoint one tomorrow. He has the legal right, and he promised me. Governor Cuomo said, ‘If I cannot change the law, if there’s no legislation that brings in special prosecutors to oversee police, then I will appoint one.’ And that was Governor Cuomo’s promise not only to me but to the people of New York state. And he has not done it.”
Mr. Simmons found Mayor de Blasio also culpable for not challenging Governor Cuomo on the governor’s failure to make good on his promises to appoint a special prosecutor, saying about Mayor de Blasio, “And Mayor de Blasio has not said a word, because he’s a punk.”
About the delays in police reform, Mr. Simmons said, “Well the hold-up is the police. They want to keep it as it is,” Mr. Simmons said.
Mr. Simmons did not address the role of big business leaders in exerting sway over the police department’s embrace of controversial tactics that lead to over-policing of minority communities. As reported by The New York Post, Commissioner Bratton had to assure members of the Partnership for New York City, a conservative chamber of commerce-like group of big business leaders, that Mayor de Blasio stood with Commissioner Bratton and the rank and file police officers on controversial issues, even supporting the neoconservative “Broken Windows” approach to policing that many say is carried out with racial bias.
Other big business interests have supported controversial policing tactics, even as Mayor de Blasio has been under pressure by grassroots activists to reform the NYPD and the criminal justice system. As reported by Progress Queens, John Osborn, the president of the advertising company BBDO, has reïterated his personal approval of Commissioner Bratton’s leadership at the NYPD, even though the on-duty NYPD officers have been faulted by The New York Daily News for being responsible for 179 deaths over a span of 15 years.
During a discussion in the interview on Thursday that alluded to the public rebukes that Mayor de Blasio suffered at the hands of the rank and file police officers, when the officers turned their backs to the mayor, Mr. Simmons said, “Look what they did to the mayor. They just made him into a …,” at which point Mr. Simmons conferred with his radio hosts, asking, “You ever say, ‘bitch ?’” – and when he was approved by his hosts to use the pejorative – Mr. Simmons said about Mayor de Blasio, “He’s a bitch,” describing Mayor de Blasio’s voluntary choice to make himself submissive to the police department.
Mr. Simmons elaborated on the cause of his sense of frustration and disappointment with Mayor de Blasio, saying, in part, that Mayor de Blasio has not lived up to the assurances he made to the activist community, who worked to elected him as mayor in 2013.
“I was there when the animal rights community and the gay community got together and said, ‘Anybody but Quinn,’” Mr. Simmons said, seemingly confirming that the Anybody But Quinn movement had served as a campaign effort to elect then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as mayor in 2013, adding about the activists, “And they worked hard, and we worked hard, because he was a progressive. But he has not done [anything for police reform].”
Repeating his expressed disgust for Mayor de Blasio’s lack of courage to confront the issue of police reform, Mr. Simmons said, “He’s a mouse.”
Calling into question the nature of Commissioner Bratton’s relationship with Mayor de Blasio, Mr. Simmons again reïterated his use of a pejorative, saying about Mayor de Blasio, “And he got the police commissioner pushing him around, like he’s a bitch,” adding about Mayor de Blasio’s lack of conviction, saying that, “And it’s shocking to me that he’s not stood up for the people of New York. The Eric Garner case – all those cases, all those rallies, all those promises that, ’We’re going to have special prosecutors,’ and they haven’t done anything but lullaby us to sleep.”
During the interview on Thursday, Mr. Simmons stressed his level of disappointment with Mayor de Blasio, saying that he thought Mayor de Blasio was a progressive, “It’s why we hired him. We put him into office. He’s a progressive. He understands that. He has Black children.”
About the recorded incidents of police brutality and officer-involved homicides, Mr. Simmons said of Mayor de Balsio, “He sees these tapes over and over again. He saw the Eric Garner case go the way it went. He’s seen it, and he knows that independent prosecutors – that’s the best thing for police.”
When Mr. Simmons was asked by his radio hosts if Mr. Simmons could be patient with the political process that Mayor de Blasio or Governor Cuomo must follow, Mr. Simmons closed by saying, “The process is wrong. It’s been wrong for years, and it’s allowed police to abuse community forever, and everybody knows it. Everybody knows special prosecutors make perfect sense. Everybody knows it.”
Once Mr. Simmons had succeeded in tactically making waves in the media for several days, Mr. Simmons later quietly offered his apology to Mayor de Blasio for having used questionable pejoratives to describe Mayor de Blasio, and Governor Cuomo indicated that he would make good on his promises to appoint a special prosecutor.
Mr. Simmons’ pointed criticisms of Mayor de Balsio followed months of growing dissatisfaction with the de Blasio administration by minority community leaders, including the Rev. Calvin Butts, who is calling for a community leader to challenge Mayor de Blasio in the 2017 Democratic Party primary in that year’s mayoral race, and U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who is reportedly considering answering the call to serve as a 2017 primary challenger to Mayor de Blasio.
Astute political observers note that Mayor de Blasio’s team of lobbyists and campaign consultants have performed the political calculus and have determined that so long as Mayor de Blasio maintains support from the deep pocket, big money campaign contributors of business leaders, the incumbent mayor has nothing to worry about facing a serious primary challenger in 2017. Indeed, the right wing billionaire Kenneth Langone, who has worked to destroy Obamacare, and Kathryn Wylde, the president of the conservative Partnership for New York City, have praised their ability to work with Mayor de Blasio, according to a business-friendly article published by The Wall Street Journal. For example, Mayor de Blasio has the political support of real estate developers and their lobbyists, possibly explaining why Mayor de Blasio feels he can ditch his promises of police reform, precisely because he doesn’t need to pander to minority voters to win his 2017 reëlection race.
As Governor Cuomo tried to avoid but ultimately could not, adopting a more populist agenda will cost politicians support of big business leaders, a fate about which Mayor de Blasio doesn't have to worry.
Mr. Simmons’ interview on Hot 97 FM has been posted on YouTube.