Fingering Freddy

Mark your calendars – today was a day that Freddy just might relive in his nightmares. Speaking at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network “Politics of the 21st Century: The Changing of the Guard” discussion at the Sheraton attended by our Joe Tuzzo, Freddy was hit with three tough questions about Diallo in front of a contentious audience.

First up was Virginia Davis, who recounted, “I got arrested with you. I was in the same paddy wagon with you and even we were in the same holding cell… at the time, it didn’t appear that you thought the shooting was not a crime. So what made you change your mind?” Freddy’s response: “I didn’t. I didn’t change my mind either. The words I used were careless… and I realized that those words caused a number of people with whom I got arrested, who believed in me… who believed in what I stood for, in what we stood for, it caused them some pain and I felt pain as well. The best I can do is to tell people that I haven’t changed up. I believe in right and wrong and there was no way that that shooting was right. It was wrong on so many different levels.”

Then a older gentleman named James asked, “I’m a staunch voter and I voted for you the last time you ran based upon what happened on Wheeler Avenue. Now, you’re running again. My question to you is, ‘Why would you support some police sergeant that 90% of them don’t even live in the city of New York and don’t even vote in the city of New York? And now you appease them and you turn your back on us.” Freddy tried interrupting, “Well, sir,” but James snapped, “You’ll never get my vote in life.” Some applause and a few shouts of “That’s right!” Freddy’s response: “That wasn’t appeasing anybody. I used some words carelessly and I‘ve taken responsibility for that.”

Then, a retired black police officer stood up and claimed, “I was the third person who volunteered to go to jail after the Amadou Diallo shooting… I believe it was a crime… I want you to explain to me how you can tap-dance around the question as to it’s not being a crime.” Freddy’s response: “I’m not a lawyer.” Lots of laughs from the audience. One woman in the audience shouted, “Yeah, he’s a robot.”

Later, Sharpton gave his opinion, which must not have provided much solace to Freddy’s camp, emphasizing, “You know you can’t go on trial unless you’re charged with a crime.”

As Freddy left the stage to plenty of commotion from the largely black crowd, Giff walked up to give his speech, standing there at the podium with an enormous grin on his face. “Now I have to follow that. Give them a minute, Rev!” When a WNYC reporter went to grab her tape recorder off the podium to chase down Freddy, Giff did his best Rodney Dangerfield, straightening his tie and quipping, “I feel like I get no respect.”