A prominent Brooklyn pastor is taking Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes to task for several statements he has made during the contentious Democratic primary race against former federal prosecutor Kenneth Thompson.
In a letter to Hynes, Rev. Clinton Miller of Brown Memorial Baptist Church writes that the long-sitting DA has “not only sanctioned and amplified racially divisive and erroneous statements from your supporters,” but has also “made repeated comments that display a staggering lack of sensitivity for a law enforcement official in a majority-minority borough.”
Hynes campaign spokesman George Arzt provided a list of 19 other prominent pastors who support the DA, and called the letter a “last minute hysterical attempt by the Thompson campaign to gain some traction.” It smacks of desperation,” he says.
In somewhat hyperbolic fashion, Miller invokes Trayvon Martin and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr..’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Miller’s voice mail box was full and not accepting messages when we called to speak with him.
In the body of the letter, Miller points out that Hynes called Thompson, who is African-American, “thuggish” following a NY1 debate. He writes that the use of the word is “incredibly offensive” and “shocking,” coming from a sitting DA.
Miller notes that Hynes told an interviewer with Hamodia published on Aug. 27 that “The black community, by and large, is mine.” Miller says “contrary to what you may believe, the ‘Black Community’ is not owned by any politician.'”
To put Hynes’ comment in context, he was referring to his support during the campaign. Here’s the fuller quotation, according to Hamodia: “He’s had some union support. The black community, by and large, is mine. Every black assemblymember, every black state senator, every black councilmember, all of the black district leaders, all support me.”
Third, Miller refers to an incident in which Hynes was booed at a debate last month for saying that Thompson didn’t know what the word, “civil” meant and addressed the heckling by saying, “are these folks trained to act like that?”
“To suggest, as you did, that black people are trained to bark animal-like responses reflect a pattern of insensitivity and disrespect for our community that must stop,” Miller says.
Miller calls on Hynes to apologize “on behalf of the African American community.”
Arzt counters: “Most of the African-American and Caribbean-American leaders support Joe and know his record and his programs which have greatly benefited Brooklyn. The more the Thompson campaign whirls, thrashes and flails, the more residents of Brooklyn see a tumbling candidacy.”