Mayor Bloomberg Vetoes Veto-Proof Stop And Frisk Bills Because He's Mayor Bloomberg
from the pointless-flexing-of-rapidly-atrophying-political-muscle dept
NY mayor Michael Bloomberg is on his way out, Police Chief Ray Kelly is on the defensive, and stop and frisk is on the ropes, having recently been declared unconstitutional. Kelly and Bloomberg were both very upset by the decision, with Bloomberg himself promising the streets would run red with the blood of slain New Yorkers if the NYPD was unable to routinely violate the Fourth Amendment.
So, there’s one major blow to Bloomberg and Kelly’s
minority harassment stop and frisk program. Of course, that decision is being appealed, which will stave off any return to normal, non-constitution-violating policework for the time being. In the meantime, the NYPD has a more pressing problem.
Two bills recently passed by the New York City Council target stop and frisk as well, by scaling back police powers and installing an Inspector General to ensure the NYPD doesn’t violate the public’s rights. Bloomberg, of course, threatened to veto these bills and then boldly went ahead and did exactly that, briefly pausing to tell council members that he’d be throwing tons of campaign dollars at anyone who wanted to switch sides. The only problem with Bloomberg’s plan was that both bills arrived on his desk with enough “yea” votes to be veto-immune.
Now Bloomberg’s angry all over again, assuming he stopped being angry at any point during the last couple of weeks. The council pointed out that stop and frisk unfairly targeted minorities, which it does. 88% of those stopped over the past 10 years have been minorities. Here’s a map of last year’s 532,911 stop-and-frisks color-coded by race and geolocated by Damien Spleeters. (Guess which race is represented by the color blue. If you can’t figure it out, click through to this post from the Village Voice for the answer key. Complicating matters is the fact that red represents whites and orange represents Hispanics.)
The data and the district court have come to the same conclusion: stop and frisk unconstitutionally targets minorities. And yet, Bloomberg’s statement on the targeted program echoes Chief Kelly’s bizarre defense of stop and frisk from a week ago:
Mr. Bloomberg disagreed, claiming “minority communities across our city” would suffer, the Post reported.
“The City Council adopted legislation that will make it harder for our police officers to protect New Yorkers and continue to drive down crime,” he said.
Just how will the minorities “suffer” from this lack of harassment? Too much freedom of movement? Hands going soft and uncalloused from the lack of contact with nearby surfaces? The disruption of day-to-day routine? Future minority youths being constantly annoyed by their parents’ stories about how back in THEIR day, the walk to school was up against the wall BOTH WAYS?
As for “continuing” to drive down crime? Well, while New York’s violent crime rate has declined significantly since highs in the late 80s-early 90s, the murder rate — a statistic both Bloomberg and Kelly have promised will skyrocket if stop and frisk is curtailed — has remained relatively flat over the last decade. If this program is so successful in getting guns off the street and curtailing violent crime, one would expect steadier trend downward. At best, the program is maintaining the status quo. Murder rates in New York are still above the national average (per 100,000 persons), along with robberies and assaults. Property crime has decreased dramatically but you wouldn’t know it from Bloomberg’s go-to defense of the program. According to Bloomberg, killing off stop and frisk will kill off thousands of New Yorkers, and whoever takes his position next year will be the new mayor of Murderville, USA, a position currently held by Rahm Emanuel.
One final point: Bloomberg and Kelly are both surveillance fanatics who harbor the desire to turn New York City into London in terms of number of cameras per square foot. Surveillance proponents like these two often make light of the public’s concerns, offering up the much abused phrase, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
When it comes to appointing an Inspector General to do a bit of internal surveillance on the NYPD, both the mayor and police chief are vehemently against it. Why? Public servants surely have no “expectation of privacy,” especially if the surveilled public doesn’t. And certainly the mayor’s faultless personal army has nothing to fear from some additional oversight… at least not if it doesn’t have anything to hide.