Laurie Cumbo Apologizes for Controversial ‘Knockout Game’ Letter

Laurie Cumbo. (Photo: Facebook)

Laurie Cumbo. (Facebook)

Councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo, who caused a national controversy after writing a letter on racial violence that blamed recent attacks partially on resentment of  “Jewish success” and “Jewish landlords”—is sorry.

A week after the controversy first emerged, Ms. Cumbo is out with a new statement, apologizing “for any pain I have caused” and insisting she meant to help bridge the gap between the African-American and Jewish communities as a purported “knockout game” continues in city streets. 

“I sincerely apologize to all of my constituents for any pain that I have caused by what I wrote. It was the opposite of my intention. I have taken the last week to reflect, evaluate and meet with Jewish, African-American and Caribbean leaders all across New York City, and I understand now that my words did not convey what was in my heart, which is a profound desire to bring our diverse communities closer together,” Ms. Cumbo said in the statement.

Her press release included statements from two Jewish Brooklyn councilmen speaking highly of their future colleague. 

“Council Member-elect Laurie Cumbo has relayed to me how truly sorry she is for her comments. In her campaign, she showed a genuine interest in working with all the communities that she will represent, including the Jewish community,” Councilman David Greenfield said.

“I appreciate Laurie’s apology, her efforts to heal any pain caused by her words among Brooklyn’s Jewish communities and her clear and longstanding commitment to the causes of tolerance, diversity and justice,” added Councilman Brad Lander.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who spoke out against Ms. Cumbo’s letter, defended her today as well: “After meeting Laurie and speaking with her, I applaud her remarks. Having gotten to know Laurie over the past week, I feel she will be a great asset to Crown Heights and the city of New York.”

View Ms. Cumbo’s full statement below:

Statement from Councilwoman-Elect Laurie Cumbo:

“On November 5th, the voters in the 35th Council District conferred upon me the highest honor of representing them in the New York City Council. From the outset of my campaign, I have sought to be sensitive to the needs of all the residents in the District, regardless of their ethnicity, race or faith. I am proud that my supporters have come from virtually every segment of the communities present in the 35th CD. During the course of the campaign I knocked on hundreds of doors and had numerous conversations with local residents, learning more of the many issues on the voters’ agendas, as well as their hopes, fears and perceptions.

“My top priority has always been addressing those issues that matter most to my constituents as the representative of all of the people in the District. I want to build bridges and bring people together and so I especially regret that my comments on the recent violent incidents in Crown Heights were offensive to my constituents. My intent was to stimulate dialogue on an important issue, but in repeating stereotypes, part of what I wrote emphasized the divisions between people, instead of bringing them together.

“I sincerely apologize to all of my constituents for any pain that I have caused by what I wrote. It was the opposite of my intention. I have taken the last week to reflect, evaluate and meet with Jewish, African American and Caribbean leaders all across New York City, and I understand now that my words did not convey what was in my heart, which is a profound desire to bring our diverse communities closer together.

“As I am about to embark on my career in government, my goal is to generate collaborative ventures that will bond people of all backgrounds. I hope and pray that I can achieve these goals, in the spirit of the 133rd Psalm, “How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”

Chanina Sperlin, Executive VP for Governmental Affairs for the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council

Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, a leader in the Crown Heights Jewish Community said, “I am heartened by Councilwoman-Elect Cumbo’s apology. I look forward to closing this chapter and working together with Laurie toward a promising and productive relationship that benefits all of the people of Crown Heights.”

Assemblyman Hikind’s reaction to Laurie Cumbo’s apology
“After meeting Laurie and speaking with her, I applaud her remarks. Having gotten to know Laurie over the past week, I feel she will be a great asset to Crown Heights and the city of New York.”

Statement from Councilman David Greenfield

“Council Member-elect Laurie Cumbo has relayed to me how truly sorry she is for her comments. In her campaign, she showed a genuine interest in working with all the communities that she will represent, including the Jewish community. I believe that Laurie has the potential to be a great Council Member and look forward to working with her to bridge the gap between the communities in her district.” -Council Member David Greenfield

Statement Councilman Brad Lander

“Laurie Cumbo is a bridge-builder. Sometimes, our bridges need a little repair work, or we take steps that don’t reflect our best intentions. I appreciate Laurie’s apology, her efforts to heal any pain caused by her words among Brooklyn’s Jewish communities, and her clear and longstanding commitment to the causes of tolerance, diversity, and justice. Laurie is going to be a great City Council Member. I look forward to serving with her, and working together to bring Brooklyn’s communities together and move our city forward.”