HT Carl Palidino
By Bob McManus December 9, 2014
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who once promised Al Sharpton a suite in his Albany office, says he wants to be New York’s deputy sheriff for racist cops.
Mayor de Blasio, wearing his distinctive just-fell-off-the-turnip-truck grin, goes on national television and says that he fears for his own son’s safety at the hands of the NYPD — as if he hasn’t been, you know, boss of the cops for almost a year and in the best position of anybody to do something about that.
The City Council, similarly empowered to make police policy but totally engrossed in the critical carriage-horse crisis, lies down on Broadway, chanting anti-cop slogans, as its contribution to the Eric Garner drama.
Roving flash mobs of the usual suspects — musty Occupy Wall Streeters, Stalinist bullies, adventuresome youngsters and smiling, selfie-snapping touristas among them — bounce about a city that’s just one high-rise fire on a protester-clogged avenue removed from a major disaster.
Welcome to life down Alice’s rabbit-hole, Gotham edition, Christmas, 2014.
It’s more than New York, of course.
Such is the power of social media that grand-jury no-bills in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island created protest waves that rolled over the nation — and will define politics and policy in the United States for some time to come.
For the moment, however, the politicians live in bug-eyed horror of being caught on the wrong side of such an emotive issue.
One that, moreover, they lack the wisdom, courage and leadership skills even to address, let alone to conquer.
Exhibit A: Gov. Cuomo.
“The problem is the perception [of police racism], even if it wasn’t the reality,” Cuomo said last week. “If people don’t trust the justice system, you have a problem, because the justice system’s responsibility is two-fold — one to do justice but second to instill the confidence in people that they are represented by that justice system.”
But there’s much more to it than that.
Millions of New Yorkers saw the videotape of Eric Garner’s last moments. In their mind’s eye, it was murder-by-police, or something akin to it, and they were deeply dissatisfied when Staten Island DA Dan Donovan declined to indict any of the cops involved.
But the police committed no crime in that video: The arrest was legitimate, Garner had no business resisting it — and the outcome, while both regrettable and tragic, was not the fault of the police.
Cuomo, a lawyer, knows this.
He should have said so directly, because hard cases usually don’t have intuitive outcomes. They demand explication — not feckless wheel-spinning. They demand leadership.
Of course de Blasio has been even worse.
He ran for office on the claim that the NYPD is intrinsically racist.
So, no surprise that he offered the cops in the case no meaningful support — never mind that they were in the street that day in his name, enforcing policies promulgated by his police commissioner, on behalf of the citizens of the city he was elected to lead.
And never mind, again, that they had committed no crime.
Schneiderman, who pumps out press releases like McDonald’s does hamburgers, is every bit as recklessly aggressive as his two predecessors — they would be Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer, respectively — so it’s no surprise that he stuck his oar in this pond, too.
He asked Cuomo for authority to investigate cop-related shootings — hell will freeze solid first — while also implying that a grave injustice was done on Staten Island.
But, again, what was the crime?
Yes, the Garner video illustrates a hideous mess. But everything in it, including the alleged chokehold, is permitted under state law. Hideousness is not indictable.
Yes, the city Medical Examiner termed Garner’s death a “homicide.” But that’s a deceitful assertion: Homicide doesn’t mean murder; it doesn’t even mean crime.
And, yes, the prohibitionist city tobacco taxes that have raised the price of a single cigarette to 75 cents — creating a market that Eric Garner was trying to fill — are insane and should be repealed.
Real leaders would have addressed all this, rather than hanging implied responsibility on a handful of cops.
Then again, real leaders would be up front about what Cuomo disingenuously calls the “perception of injustice” in the state’s criminal-justice system.
A more candid diagnosis would be this: Police-community tension most often is the residue of effective crime-fighting.
That is, crime is most often the issue. Not cops.
One way to make the tension go away, of course, is first to make the cops go away: No more Eric Garner arrests, for sure.
But is making the cops go away what New York really wants?
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