Speaking at an East New York megachurch this morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio further celebrated the decision he made last week to end the city’s appeal to a federal ruling on stop-and-frisk.
Mr. de Blasio, appearing at the sprawling Christian Cultural Center for the second time since his election, told the predominately black crowd of several thousand that he was focused on building a “pathway to a more just city.”
“Public safety and civil liberties walk hand in hand, that’s the idea of this nation that’s embodied in our Constitution. But it wasn’t happening the way it should have happened in this city,” Mr. de Blasio said, calling the “overuse” of stop-and-frisk a “broken policy.” “That policy unfortunately sent the wrong message. It said that there was something wrong with our young people, it said that they were suspects even when they had done nothing wrong.”
“Statistics are abundantly clear, over 90 percent of the people stopped during the height of the stop-and-frisk era were innocent in every way, shape or form,” he continued.”That’s the police department’s own statistics. They were innocent but they weren’t treated like law-abiding citizens. What we are now embarking on is a policy that cherishes and works hard and energetically and in a focused manner for public safety every single day with every community but treats the innocent as if they are innocent, the law-abiding as if they are law-abiding.”
Last week, Mr. de Blasio visited a recreation center not far from the church to announce that the city would be ending an appeal to a federal judge’s ruling that the city’s implementation of stop-and-frisk was unconstitutional. While former Mayor Michael Bloomberg angrily fought the ruling and insisted the way the city implemented stop-and-frisk drove down crime, Mr. de Blasio and other critics argued it unfairly targeted minorities.
In last year’s mayoral race, Mr. de Blasio’s staunch stop-and-frisk advocacy was credited with helping him leapfrog his Democratic rivals among minority voters. Many of those voters, some chanting “amen!” as Mr. de Blasio spoke, were undoubtedly seated in the lavish church.
Mr. de Blasio made sure to recognize that one of their parishioners, Ken Thompson, is now the Brooklyn district attorney and the first black person to hold that post in history. (He also showered praise on the church’s pastor, A.R. Bernard, who ironically could have become a rival of Mr. de Blasio’s–the pastor flirted with a run for mayor on the Republican line a year ago.)
Mr. de Blasio closed by quoting Bill Bratton, his new police commissioner.
“He says, ‘You can’t break the law to enforce the law.’ He says, ‘Policing should be constitutional, respectful and compassionate,’” Mr. de Blasio declared. “That’s how we move forward together.”