Mayor Visits Queens Church To Gain Support For NYPD Stop And Frisk Policy
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, finishing his third and last term as mayor, joined Reverend Floyd Flake, religious and spiritual leader of the Queens based Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York for Sunday morning Mass on July 15. The purpose of the mayor’s visit was to address the hundreds of church goers to gain their support for the continued need for police actions that have come under fire from many communities throughout New York City. The Mayor spoke about recent incidents where guns were the cause of loss of life of New Yorkers; He discussed how police officers have been shot and the toll taken when a family man is killed in the line of duty as the result of illegal guns on the street. Reverend Flake pointed out the mayor called his office earlier in the week and asked if he could address the congregation, one of the largest in the nation.
Mayor Bloomberg spoke about the public school system that was factor in helping make our city safer by education of kids about making choices as well as to prepare themselves for a future that needs an educated citizenry. He introduced New York City Public School Chancellor Dennis Walcott who sat in the first pew with the Mayor along with New York State Senate Minority leader Malcolm Smith, both who are congregants of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York.
The Mayor recognized the Chancellor for his outstanding leadership of the public schools and the direction our schools are now taking in educating our city’s youth.
The Mayor spoke about the recent violence that has overtaken the city during week of the 4th of July. He told the congregation, “For those of us who grew up in the 1940s and 50s, violence in the streets usually meant fights, and fights usually meant black eyes and broken bones. But today, violence in the streets is far more dangerous and deadly, and it also involves innocent bystanders, including young children. And that never happened before.”
The Mayor explained that the crimes of today need a more aggressive approach by the police department. He went on to commend police Commissioner Ray Kelly for keeping the city safer today than it was two decades ago when there were as many as six murders a day in New York as compared to one per day according to this year’s statistics. “Here in New York, we do that job far better than most other places. We are the safest big city in the country. And we are on track to record the lowest number of murders in our city’s history,” said the mayor.
The Mayor pointed out how he helped organize 600 mayors to form a national coalition to press Washington to make changes to help get guns off the street. “It’s why we passed, with Malcolm’s help – thank you – a tougher state gun law against carrying loaded illegal guns.”
The Mayor asked the community to support the efforts of the NYPD in their stop and frisk policy. He pointed out that hundreds of thousands of illegal guns have been taken off the street since the policy had begun.
The Mayor announced, “Last year, we launched the nation’s first comprehensive effort to help black and Latino youth overcome the odds and succeed. George Soros, a philanthropist here in New York City, gave $30 million. And Bloomberg Philanthropies, I’m happy to say, matched that with another $30 million, and the City – the taxpayers, you – added $67 million, for something that we’re called the Young Men’s Initiative. It is designed to break the cycle of violence and poverty that traps so many young men. It is clear that the mayor is so convinced that his policies are making a difference in taking guns off the street and helping youth to overcome adversity growing up in New York City today that he has put his own foundation’s money to make a difference. This mayor appears to put his money where his mouth is, something most former mayors did not do.
Making efforts to expand after school programs was a way the mayor thought would help make our city safer. “The best way to keep guns out of the hands of young people is to keep their hands busy with pen and paper, and keep them in school,” said the mayor.
“And, if you want to know who in this audience today is doing the most to change society and making it better – it is not Reverend Flake, and it is not Malcolm Smith, and it’s not Michael Bloomberg – it’s Dennis Walcott, because the schools are everything.” This remark brought a loud applause from a mostly quiet and respectful audience.
The Mayor focused on stop and frisk near the end of his prepared speech that was assisted by an iPod that the Mayor often uses when making public speeches. “And that’s why, in addition to everything else we are doing, police officers stop and question those who are suspected of criminal activity, and frisk those who are suspected of carrying a weapon. Those stops have recovered thousands of guns over the past decade, and tens of thousands of knives.
At the same time, stops must be made for legitimate reasons and no person should ever, ever be racially profiled. “Racial profiling is wrong and Police Commissioner Kelly and I will not tolerate it. And that’s Commissioner Kelly has re-issued an order banning it... and it is being reinforced in the NYPD’s training. But stops must be made based on suspicion of criminal activity, and criminal activity only, and they should be conducted with as much courtesy as possible.”
The Mayor announced, “Commissioner Kelly recognizes the need for better training and stricter accountability to make sure the stops are done properly, and that people are treated respectfully. To borrow a phrase from former President Clinton, when it comes to stop, question, and frisk, if we can do it better, we have to mend it, but we don’t have to end it.
The Mayor pointed out that both Reverend Flake and Senator Smith have both supported, stop and frisk, “when conducted appropriately, stops are an important part of taking guns off the streets and keeping our communities safe.
Mayor Bloomberg took on the NYCACLU criticizing them for putting their own interests before those of New Yorkers.
“But if the NYCLU is allowed to determine policing strategies in our city, many more children will grow up fatherless and many more children will not grow up at all,” said the mayor.
Mayor Bloomberg thanked Reverend Floyd Flake for honoring his request to address the congregation and thanked the congregation for allowing him to speak to them. Mayor Bloomberg spoke passionately choosing his words carefully, “And as long as I am mayor, I promise you – we will not choose between safety and civility. We will demand both and we will continue to do even more to deliver both, to every community in this city."