Rudy Wasn't Always This Nice to Families in Trouble

Daily News blogger Liz Benjamin wrote yesterday that "Vintage Rudy" had surfaced in Minnesota this week, lecturing a reporter "who dared asked him a question he found offensive." The question involved 17-year-old Bristol Palin's pregnancy, which Giuliani aggressively declared off-limits, calling it a "personal issue that the family is handling in the most appropriate way."

But the former Mayor was not always so reluctant to discuss parental responsibilities.

When police fired 17 times in 1998 at 16-year-old Michael Jones, who was riding his bike and brandishing a toy gun on a Brooklyn street, Giuliani blamed Jones's parents. He attacked them at a press conference even while their son, who was hit six times, lay in a hospital bed in critical condition.

"Adult supervision would have prevented the gun," Giuliani declared. "It would also have prevented him from being out at 2:30 in the morning for whatever purpose, and I don't think the purpose for which he was out was a salutary one." There was no evidence that Jones, who survived, was involved in any criminal activity.

Giuliani similarly condemned the family of another 16-year-old black youth, Dante Johnson, who was grabbed by a cop through the window of his patrol car and shot in the abdomen in 1999. The cops said Johnson and a friend appeared to have a gun, though neither did. "There appear to be facts that would explain and justify what happened here, including the actions of these men--what are they--16-year-olds out at 12:30 in the morning?" concluded the mayor. Giuliani's police commissioner was more direct: "I believe families should wonder about kids hanging out at 12:30 in large groups." The cop who shot Johnson was convicted of negligent assault.

More famously, Giuliani engaged in repeated smears of an unarmed black man killed by the cops, Patrick Dorismond, even improperly releasing his sealed juvenile record, which contained an arrest for robbery when he was 13 years old. He did not note that the robbery charge was dropped before it ever went to a judge. Giuliani did not, however, explicitly attack Dorismond's parents, as he did Johnson and Jones.

Yesterday, Giuliani responded to the Palin inquiry by saying: "You should be ashamed of yourself, asking that question." Observing repeatedly that the family was dealing with it as "other American families have had to handle this," he declared: "We'd be a better country if this was a thing where there was sort of an internal mechanism when journalists, and the journalistic community, said 'well, these are things we don't give a lot of emphasis to.'"

Giuliani is scheduled to deliver the keynote at tonight's GOP convention. Neither of his own children are expected to attend.

Image adapted from a Flickr photo by ReneS under a Creative Content license.

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