De Blasio and Mark-Viverito Knock Giuliani’s Comments on Race and Policing

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio. (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council) William Alatriste/NYC Council

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s comments this morning about “liberal, guilty whites” who won’t discuss crime in black communities didn’t sit well with some current members of city government.

Mr. Giuliani said Mayor Bill de Blasio is “making a terrible mistake” in the wake of Eric Garner’s death by emphasizing police killings of black citizens rather than the problem of crime within black communities, something he said “liberal guilty whites” refuse to say is a larger problem.

“I really make it a point not to respond to comments like that,” Mr. de Blasio told the Observer today at an unrelated Gracie Mansion press conference. “The facts are just so clear. There is a stark problem in this country. We have to come to grips with it, and we have to deal with it.”

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was a bit more pointed in her criticism.

“I think it’s really it’s hard to contain myself when comments like that are made, which I think are really misinformed and lack any knowledge of systemic biases that exist,” Ms. Mark-Viverito told the Observer at a City Hall press conference. “I think what he said is unfortunate. I don’t think it really speaks to the reality that many people feel, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Mr. Giuliani’s comments today doubled down on earlier remarks focusing on crime in black communities, which he insisted is a more pressing problem than “police overreaction.”

“Liberal guilty whites have to stop refusing to say the bigger part of the problem here is black crime and not police overreaction. A smaller part of the problem is police overreaction. It’s driven by the incredibly large rates of crime in the black community,” Mr. Giuliani said. “The energy that Sharpton and everybody else is spending protesting against police would save a lot more black lives if it would start talking about black education, if it started talking about the family situation in the black neighborhoods.”

Mr. Giuliani acknowledged the role slavery has played in challenges in the African-American community, but also placed blame for high crime—and the resulting more frequent interactions with police patrolling high-crime area—on teachers unions for opposing charter schools in black communities and on absent fathers.

But Mr. de Blasio said today ignoring or denying the fractured relationship between law enforcement and communities of color is “counterproductive”

He went on to cite re-training efforts underway in the NYPD, spearheaded by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton—first hired by Mr. Giuliani.

“This is the productive model. Anyone who wants to live in the past can do that, but this is the productive model,” Mr. de Blasio said.

Ross Barkan contributed reporting

De Blasio and Mark-Viverito Knock Giuliani’s Comments on Race and Policing