Up & Coming Weekly

March 03, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 6 of 32

6 UCW MARCH 4-10, 2020 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM KARL MERRITT, Columnist. COM- MENTS? Editor@upandcomingweek- ly.com. 910-484-6200. Column Gist: We have come to a point in America where the overwhelming majority of politicians will say whatever they conclude will get them elected. e responsibility for this condition is not lim- ited to politicians. Much of the blame rests with citizens. A Google search for malleable yields this definition: "(of a metal or other material) able to be hammered or pressed perma- nently out of shape without breaking or cracking." at is a reasonable character- ization of the vast majority of American politicians. ere are some exceptions, but they are few and far between. A prime example of how this malleable condition plays out with American politicians shows through in Mike Bloomberg's response to outrage regarding his support for stop- and-frisk during his three terms as mayor of New York (2002-2013). A Google search for "Stop-and-Frisk New York" gives this information: "'Stop, question and frisk' is an NYPD policy wherein police will detain and question pedestrians, and potentially search them, if they have a 'reasonable suspicion' that the pedestrian in question 'committed, is committing, or is about to commit a felony or a Pe- nal Law misdemeanor.'" is policy was substantial- ly employed by New York police during the time that Rudy Giuliani was mayor of the city (1994-2001). Crime in the city had started a very noticeable decline, beginning in 1991. e decline escalated during the Giuliani era. In great part, he credited stop-and-frisk for that decline. ere are those who adamantly disagree with Giuliani's assessment. Giuliani was mayor throughout most of the 1990s and the following is from an article titled, "What Reduced Crime in New York City", on the National Bureau of Economic Research website: During the 1990s, crime rates in New York City dropped dramatically, even more than in the United States as a whole. Violent crime declined by more than 56 percent in the City, compared to about 28 percent in the nation as whole. Property crimes tumbled by about 65 percent, but fell only 26 per- cent nationally. Bloomberg followed Giuliani as mayor and continued the policy over the course of his 12 years. Crime rates kept falling. However, many more stops were made on an annual basis than had been the case under Giuliani. is from an article titled "Stop and frisk gets renewed attention in Bloomberg can- didacy'" by Regina Garcia Cano and Jennifer Peltz, appearing February 16, 2020: e New York Police Department began increas- ing its emphasis on stop and frisk in the mid-1990s, when Republican Rudy Giuliani was mayor. But stops soared under Bloomberg – who held office as a Republican and later an independent — rising from about 97,000 stops in 2002 to a high of about 685,000 in 2011. ere were fewer than 13,500 stops last year, according to NYPD data. Over 80% of the people stopped during the surge of stop and frisk were black or Latino. e surge in stops under Bloomberg, and the continued high percentage of those stopped being black or Latino, generated strong opposition to the program. Recognizing the depth of opposition, when Bloomberg was moving toward announcing his run for the presidency, he started apologizing for his support of stop-and-frisk. His first stop was a predominately African American mega church in Brooklyn, New York. is from an article by De- van Cole and Cristina Alesci titled "'I was wrong': Bloomberg sorry for 'Stop and Frisk' in about-face apology ahead of potential presidential bid": "Now hindsight is 20/20. But as crime continued to come down as we reduced stops and as it contin- ued to come down during the next administration to its credit, I now see that we could and should have acted sooner. And acted faster to cut the stops. I wish we had. And I'm sorry that we didn't," Bloom- berg said. "But I can't change history, however today I want you to know that I realize back then I was wrong and I'm sorry." In the months since his apology before that congregation, Bloomberg has repeatedly apolo- gized in several settings. e fact of life is that, to be elected president, any Democrat will need to substantially win the black vote in the primaries and general election. Given the impact of stop-and-frisk on blacks, Bloomberg needs to separate from his 12 year full-throated support of the program. at full-throated support shows through in a recently released recording of Bloomberg talking about the why and how of it. is from an article by Julia Musto titled "Trump: Bloomberg's 'stop and frisk' policy sparked a 'revolution' in NYC, Giuliani was a 'far better' mayor": "Ninety-five percent of murders- murderers and murder victims fit one M.O. You can just take a de- scription, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops," he said. "ey are male, minorities, 16-25. at's true in New York, that's true in virtually every city (inau- dible). And that's where the real crime is. You've got to get the guns out of the hands of people that are getting killed." Bloomberg also said urban crime-fight- ing required cities to "spend the money" and "put a lot of cops in the streets," partic- ularly in "minority neighborhoods," where he said the crime is. He also acknowledged the "unintended consequences" of the policy. "So one of the unintended consequences is people say, 'Oh my God, you are arrest- ing kids for marijuana that are all minori- ties.' Yes, that's true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods," Bloomberg is heard saying on the record- ing. "Yes, that's true. Why do we do it? Because that's where all the crime is. And the way you get the guns out of the kids' hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them... And then they start... 'Oh I don't want to get caught.' So they don't bring the gun. ey still have a gun, but they leave it at home." I would contend that the quote above reflects Bloomberg's strongly held position regarding stop-and-frisk. However, now that he is running for president, he proves malleable and does what the vast majority of politicians do; abandons a strongly held position even when there is a reasonable argument for the position that is being abandoned. Without doubt, the way Bloomberg said what is reported above is inflammatory, offensive, and deserving of a bunch of other negative labels. However, there is some sense to be made of his core points. Let the record be clear: I cannot think of a sce- nario where I would vote for Bloomberg for any of- fice…definitely not for president of this country. e challenge is to put that aside and honestly consider the facts of what he says: Crime is highest in minor- ity neighborhoods; police should be more concen- trated in high crime areas; male minorities commit crimes at an alarming rate; crime in New York did decrease substantially with stop-and-frisk in place; the possibility of unintended consequences should not automatically prevent taking an action. Faced with an election-threatening public response, most politicians do what Bloomberg is doing regarding stop-and-frisk. ey give in to the public will; no matter that there is substance and reason in the politician's position regarding an is- sue. e public's contribution to this response from politicians is that, in general, Americans no longer deal well with hearing and processing any truth that does not fit with their desires or personal self- interest. at's why we have deficits and debt out of control, a Social Security System going broke, a health care system in shambles, illegal immigration flourishing, a Congress that is impotent…and that is just for starters. We better find a lot more politicians with com- mon sense and a backbone; while we, at the same time, find what it takes to deal with uncom- fortable truth. Malleable politicians: As American as apple pie by KARL MERRITT OPINION Americans no longer deal well with hearing and processing any truth that does not fit with their desires or personal self-interest.

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