Bloomberg Goes to War With Press and Politicians in Passionate Safety Speech

Mayor Bloomberg. (Photo:

Mayor Bloomberg. (Photo:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has always been critical of media outlets and politicians pushing policies that he argues will weaken the New York City’s police department, but he took his case to the next level this afternoon when he blasted both the City Council and the press writ-large for undermining the city’s security.

He used the recent murder of a Bronx teenager to make his most forceful plea for proactive safety strategies.

“After his murder, … there was not even a mention of his murder in our papers–our paper of record, The New York Times,” the mayor declared. “’All the News That’s Fit to Print’ did not include the murder of 17-year-old Alphonza Bryant. Do you think that if a white, 17-year-old prep student from Manhattan had been murdered, The Times would have ignored it? Me neither.”

Standing before high-ranking officers at One Police Plaza, Mr. Bloomberg castigated the media–especially The Times–for editorializing against the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk tactic.

“Four days after Alphonza Bryant’s murder went unreported by The Times, the paper published another editorial attacking stop-question-and-frisk,” he said. “They called it a ‘widely loathed’ practice. … Let me tell you what I loathe. I loathe that 17-year-old minority children can be senselessly murdered in the Bronx and some of the media doesn’t even consider it news.”

In addition to grilling The Gray Lady, Mr. Bloomberg also attacked two specific City Council bills: one that would prohibit NYPD from racial profiling and another that would install an inspector general for the department. The latter, he said, would confuse police officers while the profiling bill would place unnecessary restrictions on their ability to identify suspects.

The speech in many ways seemed addressed to the term-limited mayor’s successor. Many Gracie Mansion hopefuls have criticized the department for creating a climate of distrust in minority communities, but Mr. Bloomberg simply said safety “is the most important job of any mayor, period.”

“I will never play politics with people’s lives. My primary responsibility for mayor–as it will be for my successor–is to keep New York Safe,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Yes, creating jobs is important. Yes, providing social services to those in need is very important. Yes, providing top-quality education to our children is maybe most important of all. But protecting people from street crime and protecting  our city [from] another terrorist attack, is the most important job of any mayor, period.”

Mr. Bloomberg didn’t name names; he only anonymously attacked “some mayoral candidates” promoting these polices–“probably because this is an election year.” Most of the major Democrats in the mayoral race have proposed reforming stop-and-frisk and, to varying degrees, support other NYPD-related legislation Mr. Bloomberg opposes. However, one mayoral contender, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is allowing the two bills in question to proceed–the profiling legislation without her personal support. Political observers widely consider Ms. Quinn to be Mr. Bloomberg’s favored successor.

We asked Mr. Bloomberg’s spokesperson, Marc La Vorgna, if today’s comments might be taken as a sign that the mayor’s endorsement wouldn’t go to a candidate advocating the NYPD reforms he thinks will jeopardize lives.

“The Mayor considers many factors when looking at candidates, locally or nationally,” Mr. La Vorgna replied. “Public safety is certainly high on the list.”

Update (3:03 p.m.): A Times spokeswoman responded to the racial bias allegations.

Additional reporting by Jill Colvin. Bloomberg Goes to War With Press and Politicians in Passionate Safety Speech