Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The policies Giuliani said made New York City “the safest large city in America,” and would make America itself safer, will only result in more deaths like those of Sterling and Castile, but also in attacks like those that killed the police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. In fact, it makes anti-police violence as inevitable as police violence. (Screenshot: CNN/YouTube)

What Rudy Giuliani Did For New York Would Make America More Unsafe

What Rudy Giuliani did for New York City as its former mayor, and what Donald Trump promises to do for America, will only make things more dangerous for Americans — both for the police, and for those being policed.

Giuliani’s speech on the opening night of the Republican National Convention — themed “Make America Safe Again” — quickly turned into a rant about Black Lives Matter and the policing of black communities. The speech came a day after three Baton Rouge, La., police officers had been shot and killed and three days after the funeral of Alton Sterling, a black man whose shooting death by police in Baton Rouge sparked a wave of protests.

Claiming to have taken New York City “from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in America,” Giuliani declared, “What I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America.”

What Giuliani did was appoint William Bratton as chief of police, who then joined Giuliani in putting the “broken windows” theory of policing into practice. “Broken windows” became the basis for the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy, which disproportionately targeted blacks and Latinos, with minimal effect on crime.

Watch the speech:

Out of four million stop-and-frisk searches in ten years, only one in 10 resulted in criminal charges. Eighty-one percent of those charged were black or Latino. During that era, it was difficult to find black or Latino young men who hadn’t been stopped multiple times under the policy, the same way that Philando Castile was pulled over more than 49 times for minor infractions over 13 years — an average of once every three months – before he was shot and killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minn., the same week Sterling died.

Yet, while crime decreased in New York City, Giuliani’s policies had nothing to do with it. Crime dropped nationwide during that time, and New York’s drop was more likely due to the waning of the 1980s crack epidemic, and the growth of the prison population due to drug laws. The only beneficiaries were the for-profit prison industry, and police departments funded by fines and fees charged to the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

The policies Giuliani said made New York City “the safest large city in America,” and would make America itself safer, will only result in more deaths like those of Sterling and Castile, but also in attacks like those that killed the police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. In fact, it makes anti-police violence as inevitable as police violence.

As Ta-Nehisi Coates explains, illegitimate policing makes everyone — including the police — less safe, in the same way that Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric makes America less safe. “Wanton discrimination in policy and rhetoric,” Coates writes, “undercuts American legitimacy and fuels political extremism,” and “wanton discrimination is definitional to the black experience,” often implemented by law enforcement. Coates compares the result to “the contempt in which most white Americans hold O.J. Simpson,” and their feelings toward the judge and jury in his case. Only, black Americans have felt that way every few months for generations, as “police officers have been getting away with murdering black people” – as happened with the murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland and is happening with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore –
“since the advent of American policing.”

The injustice builds up like layers of sediment that hardens into rock over the generations, and a tangible, heavy sense of “dread and grievance that compels a community to understand the police as objects of fear, not respect.” In black communities, the police derive their power from the force they deploy, as Coates writes, and not from some high American ideal. That is the danger to the policed. The other danger is that the police are “indistinguishable from any other street gang.” And if that’s so, “then it is certain that someone will resort to the kind of justice typically meted out to all other powers in the street.”

The alternative to Giuliani’s vision was seen in Wichita, Kan., this weekend, where a Black Lives Matter protest against police violence turned into a barbecue, and an opportunity for Black Lives Matter activists, community members, and police officers to break bread together. A diverse group of nearly 1,000 Wichitans came out to the “First Steps Cookout” to meet with police chief Gordon Ramsay. The event was going to be a march, until Ramsay met with community activists after a peaceful protest. Activist Djuan Wash said the event was the culmination of a two-year campaign that resulted in the establishment of a citizens review board, and cultural competency and diversity training for officers. At the cookout, Ramsay announced that officers would equipped with body cameras.

The whole nation must take similar first steps to build “the kind of equitable society in which police force is used as sparingly as possible” if we are to avoid seeing more Alton Sterlings and Philando Castiles, and more violence against police as in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

 


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath is the Online Producer at Campaign for America's Future. He has consulted on blogging and social media consultant for a number of organizations and agencies. He is a prominent activist on LGBT and HIV/AIDS issues.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.


Ousted by AOC, Joe Crowley Now Lobbying Against Tax Hikes on Corporate Giants

The former chair of the House Democratic Caucus once called the GOP's 2017 tax law a "scam," but now he's collaborating with Wall Street to undermine attempts at progressive reform.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Corporate Fraud at Its Worst': J&J Hides Behind Bankruptcy Amid Baby Powder Lawsuits

"Here we go again," said Elizabeth Warren. "Another giant corporation is abusing our bankruptcy system."

Julia Conley ·


'Embarrassing': US Absent as World Joins Together to Protect Biodiversity

"It reinforces the notion that the U.S. is a fair-weather partner when it comes to environmental conservation, including issues of climate change," said one critic.

Kenny Stancil ·


'It Was Torture': African Asylum-Seekers Describe Restraint Agony on ICE 'Death Flights'

"In Cameroon, I had been beaten with a machete until my feet swelled and bled... But the day I was put in the WRAP by ICE, I wanted to die. I have never felt such horrible pain."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo