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Mayor Bill de Blasio was on the Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on Monday, talking cops, affordable housing, and, thankfully, weed.
The show promoted the episode by asking Twitter users to send in questions they hoped Wilmore would pose to the mayor. Using the hashtag #KeepIt100 — a reference to a running gag in which Wilmore demands that panelists give 100 percent honest answers to difficult questions — users suggested questions that covered everything from sanitation policy to the more important things in life:
#KeepIt100 Marijuana. Ask him about Marijuana.
— |OG BJ BROOKS| (@yeaabuddy_Brad) March 2, 2015
Wilmore began by asking about the growing inequality in the city, and the mayor countered by touting his housing plan — de Blasio has said his goal is to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing — before moving on to the “beef” with the city’s police department that consumed de Blasio in the first months of 2015. “Is it like a West Coast–East Coast thing?” Wilmore asked.
Attributing the tensions to both the killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island last summer and the murder of two police officers in December, de Blasio said that his administration was now on a “better page” with the NYPD. But he said there was a history of mistrust and the rift between police and minority communities needed time to heal.
“What’s happened over the years, things like the stop-and-frisk policy under the previous administration, were divisive. And it caused people to look at their young men, their family members, their children, their grandchildren, their nephews, being treated like criminals, when in fact they were law-abiding young men,” de Blasio said.
Wilmore also brought up comments de Blasio made last year that he worried about his own biracial son’s interactions with police. The most combative figures associated with the NYPD — like Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch — have pointed to that comment in particular as one that offended police officers. De Blasio said he was surprised by the response.
“It wasn’t a new thing,” de Blasio said. “We did a TV advertisement talking about the reality of the conversations we had in our family. A young man of color today needs to have that conversation in his family. It’s something that everyone knows. And it’s not a comment that’s disrespectful to the police. We deeply respect our police, we need our police to protect us.”
De Blasio also spent some time talking about the dramatic decrease in marijuana arrests in the city — collars are down 60 percent since the NYPD started issuing summonses in lieu of handcuffs in most cases — and of course, the mayor was also asked about — sigh — the dress. To his credit, he seemed genuinely unfamiliar with the whole soul-sucking debate, because he declared the color scheme blue and green, which was of course not one of the options. Plus one, de Blasio.
The mayor has had a pretty good track record on late-night Comedy Central appearances. Last February, he was on the Daily Show, where Jon Stewart heaped well-deserved scorn on him for his habit of eating pizza with a knife and fork, and where the mayor acknowledged his fondness for Che Guevara posters. His last appearance, on the Colbert Report, wasn’t quite as scintillating, as host Stephen Colbert let the mayor slide on what was then a hot-button issue — de Blasio’s Italian vacation in the midst of what seemed like an impending transit strike.
Well before the show began, a certain other Twitter user — first lady Chirlane McCray — sent in her own question for hizzoner.
— Chirlane McCray (@Chirlane) March 2, 2015
The mayor was confronted with that particular tweet by Wilmore, and had a chance to weigh in.
De Blasio: “This is truly keeping it 100. I was ordered to pick up the dry cleaning. I am too scared to defy that order.”
Wilmore: “So what you’re saying, Mr. Mayor, is that Black Wives Matter?”
De Blasio: “Clever! Very good. Yes, they do. Si se puede.”