By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Davis faced backlash from the Brooklyn Democratic machine in the fight over redevelopment. A local activist recalls a redevelopment meeting to which pols from Congress and the Assembly pointedly didn't invite Davis. "They didn't want him," says the activist. "They wanted Tish James. So they weren't going to work with him." Ultimately, Davis arranged his own meetings, in his own housemost recently, he hosted Doctoroff to discuss redevelopment issues.
The slain councilman lies in state on Monday at City Hall.
photo: Michael Appleton
The slain councilmanwhose face on campaign posters adorns half the bus stops in the areawas praised as a leader in the tradition of Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman. Smuggle slaves to freedom, Davis did not. But he definitely wasn't an outsider. "He wasn't just out here when he was trying to get votes," says one woman.
On many people's minds is a big question: Will the Democratic machine reclaim this seat? The rally pumped up Davis's brother Geoffrey to succeed him in office, though he roared into the crackling microphone at opponents and the press, "How dare you talk to me about a political position!" But asked about his possible future as a councilmember for the 35th, he replied, "You thought he had fire? You ain't seen nothing yet!"
Meanwhile, on the streets, conspiracy theories abound. In this case, the word is that this was a purposeful "assassination" of another black leader, echoing Geoffrey Davis's lament that "the system" killed his brother. The day after the murder, a young motorist driving by Davis's district office bellowed out the window, "Check them out on the council! They always hated James!"
But even those who believe that Askew was simply a man who cracked up are fearful that the murder will mean a return to business as usuala district run by reclusive party hacks, not insurgents like Davis who at least gave some time to practically anyone who approached him.