The only black candidate for mayor said Sunday Trayvon Martin was killed because he was black - and the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy is driven by the same kind of bias.
“Trayvon Martin did die because he was black. Of that there is no doubt,” ex-City Controller Bill Thompson told the congregation at Abundant Life Church in Brooklyn, saying that regardless of legal merits of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, “George Zimmerman was suspicious of Trayvon because he was young and because he was black.”He turned the issue into his most forceful attack to date on the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy.
“Here in New York City, we've institutionalized Mr. Zimmerman’s suspicion with a policy that all but requires our police officers to treat young black and Latino men with suspicion, to stop them and frisk them because of the color of their skin,” he said, charging young men of color “are profiled, as Trayvon was profiled. If our government profiles people because of skin plot and treats them as potential criminals, how can we expect citizens to do any less?"
Thompson said his natural instinct is to steer clear of the topic of race.
He has taken a moderate stand on stop and frisk compared to some of his Democratic rivals, criticizing it as abusive and calling for an overhaul but opposing its abolition as well as bills to create an NYPD inspector general and allow people to sue over racial profiling.
But in an unusually passionate speech for the typically subdued candidate, he said he felt compelled to speak out after the not guilty verdict in Martin’s killing, “after a jury of our peers declared the killing of an innocent black youth to not be a crime."
He said the verdict prompted tough conversations between children and parents, “especially those of us like me with young black sons.”
“I do not believe our government can fully stop racism, but I do believe we must constantly look to see how it may enable it, even unintentionally,” he said. “So we must ask ourselves, when fear of young black men ends in deadly violence against the innocent, has our government perpetuated that fear by targeting people of color with suspicion?”
Let me know when Thompson feels "passionate" enough to connect Trayvon Martin's tragic death to the tragic deaths of young black men shot and killed by the NYPD here in NYC and call for the NYPD to stop killing black men for crimes like having a hand in a waistband or trying to flush dope down the toilet.
Somebody said in a comment on another post here at Perdido Street School that they could never vote for Bill Thompson because he is the ultimate hack.
I think there is something to that.
Even in this supposed "passionate" speech which Thompson gives about an issue he says he cares a lot about, he takes the hack route and softballs his criticism against the NYPD.
Here's a part of the speech Thompson conveniently left out:
Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman because Martin was black, there is no doubt about that.
Kimani Gray was killed by the NYPD because he was black, there is no doubt about that.Ramarley Graham was killed by the NYPD because he was black, there is no doubt about that.Just as George Zimmerman targeted Trayvon Martin because of his race, ultimately killing him with impunity and walking away a free man from the crime, the NYPD targets black men in this city every day and every so often, they too ultimately kill one with impunity, as has happened in both the Graham and Gray cases.
See - you can connect the Trayvon tragedy to the NYPD's killing of black men in this city.
Thompson should be taking a stand on these NYPD tragedies instead of giving a speech on stop and frisk that he's had poll tested to death for a couple of weeks before he had the guts to go public with it.
He has been trying to thread the needle on stop and frisk and NYPD police brutality for the entire campaign.
But you can't thread the needle on this issue.
You just can't.
Trayvon's killing was a tragedy and an outrage.
But so were the murders of Ramarley Graham and Kimani Gray.
POSTSCRIPT: And don't get me started on Thompson's aggrandizing Obama's Trayvon speech.
I'm sure it hasn't occurred to a hack like Thompson, but given Obama's drone bomb killing track record killing men of color, Obama is, in the words of Cornell West, "a global George Zimmerman."