It takes more than a pint of beer to resolve the endemic posturing by cops that rile Blacks in New York City when it comes to dealing with certain members of the New York Police Department.
Some call it racism, while others feel it simply calls for adherence to the sensitivity training cops undergo as recruits at the Police Academy.
Following an incident at the West Indian American Day parade last weekend at which a member of the New York City Council and an aide to the public advocate were thrown to the ground and arrested for violating parade rules, several councilmembers expressed outrage at the incident and the mayor’s gesture about convening a “beer summit” to discuss the arrests.
Manhattan Democratic Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito has described Bloomberg’s offers as “insulting” and “dismissive,” stating that he failed to address the “cold, hard fact” of racial bias in the city.
She said the police’s “stop, question and frisk” policy was “immoral and ineffective” and must be “gutted and reformed.”
“There’s nothing to have a beer over,” said Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm. “We need a policy change in the New York City Police Department.”
Williams, a Grenadian American, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, and Kirsten John Foy, an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, were arrested after they walked into what has been described as a “frozen zone” at the end of the parade route.
Williams said he and Foy were given permission to walk in the area. Video clips show police throwing Foy being to the ground.
Lewis A. Fidler, another councilman from Brooklyn, warned that the probe into the incident “had better be full and it had better be real.”
He said there was “no better way” to send an unequivocal message against racial discrimination than by disciplining any cops found to have behaved inappropriately.
As the community expressed outrage over Williams’ arrest, Bloomberg suggested a similar “beer summit” to President Obama’s after Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. was arrested in 2009 by a Cambridge, Mass. police sergeant.
“Hopefully every once in a while if there’s a misunderstanding, you have a beer together and work it out,” Bloomberg said.
But Williams and Foy, said while they “appreciate the mayor’s gesture, this is bigger than the three of us over a beer.
“Thank you for the compliment and gesture,” they said. “We would rather have a meeting with the mayor and (Police) Commissioner (Raymond) Kelly, where young African Americans and Latino New Yorkers can talk openly and directly about their experiences with stop and frisk and other police interactions.”
Bloomberg said Williams “had talked to the Police commissioner, who told him he was going to do an internal investigation.”
“The police have a job to do and the city councilman has a job to do, and hopefully, every once in a while, if there’s a misunderstanding, they have a beer together and work it out,” he said.
Williams had assailed the police last week, at a press conference on the steps of City Hall in lower Manhattan, for arresting him and Foy.
“It is important that the key facts are set straight, since the statement released by the NYPD (New York Police Department) was blatantly unfactual. No punches were thrown by anyone involved,” said Williams, flanked by backed by more than two dozen city, state and federal elected officials.
“Both Mr. Foy and myself had been given clearance by a higher-ranking police officer to be on the sidewalk, which was reserved for elected officials and other dignitaries. We both presented our credentials and identification repeatedly to police officers immediately upon being questioned. Furthermore, the claim that we were detained until our identities were established is ridiculous,” he added.
“This was an incident involving a select number of police officers that quickly and unnecessary escalated itself. We believe that had Mr. Foy or I been white, this would not have happened. Plain and simple,” Williams continued.
“It is a reflection of a culture which includes stop and frisk protocol that I hope after this incident will finally end, based on how unfairly it targets innocent Black and Latino young men,” he said.