In a news conference yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio formally announced what he’s been promising since he was a candidate: an end to New York City’s ongoing legal battle to stop and frisk with impunity. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city had been appealing a decision by Federal District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, which called the practice unconstitutional, and which ordered that an independent monitor be appointed to reform the department’s stop-and-frisk policies; separately, the New York City Council voted to create an inspector general’s position for the department.
In an interview this morning with Peter Rosenberg and Ebro, Hot 97’s morning show hosts, de Blasio called stop-and-frisk “a broken policy,” and promised “an entirely different approach” to fighting crime.
“We’ve had a huge huge number of young men of color, completely innocent, being stopped,” he said, for the remaining five people who weren’t aware that was how it generally worked. He said once the plan is approved by a federal judge, the appeal will be dropped and a federal monitor will be appointed to oversee the department for three years. The mayor said that he, new Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, and the city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, are in “total unity in how to get this done.”
The Hot 97 hosts, though, asked the real question: Does this mean stop-and-frisk, in all its forms, is over for good?
De Blasio didn’t quite answer that, replying, “It’s starting to be different already.” Bratton, he said, has spent the past month delivering “a clear message to the troops,” meaning NYPD officers, that law enforcement has to be “respectful, constitutional, and compassionate. … You can’t break the law to enforce the law. You have to honor the rights of the individual.” He added, “We’re going to take all that time and energy and focus it on actual criminals. There’s a relatively small group of people committing the crime. We’re going after them.”
De Blasio also talked about some other pending city business, and gave several indicators that he’ll be splitting with Albany on a number of issues. He spoke about efforts to reduce pedestrian deaths through the new Vision Zero plan, and told the hosts that New York City should have the right to set its own minimum wage, separate from the state’s. He also promised to expand paid sick leave and pour more money into the CUNY system. And he shed a small amount of light on his feelings about Governor Cuomo and their fight over universal pre-K, after the hosts asked, rather pointedly, about his relationship with the governor.
“Let me just say on the pre-K, my wife, Chirlane, and I are public school parents for the last four years — ” de Blasio began.
“AFRO SON!” both hosts shouted in unison, several times.
“It’s extrardinary,” de Blasio said, very sincerely. “I seem him working on it every day. It’s a work of art.” Without much transition, he added, “Every child deserves full day pre-K. Every middle school student deserves after-school help. We’re going to move on this every day. The people of this city believe in it. I respect the governor a lot. I’ve known him for 20 years. We have a difference on this issue. We’re working on that.”
Other things we learned from the fastest and most thorough interview we’ve ever heard with the new mayor: He’s rooting for the Seahawks because they’re the “underdog.” He likes the governor’s plan on medical marijuana, and he’d like to see New Yorkers not get charged for possessing small amount of pot.
“Will I ever be able to to go to the bodega and get me some herb?” Ebro asked, sensibly.
“I don’t think that’s happening any time soon,” de Blasio replied. “Sorry to let you down.”
So much for progress, guys.