While diplomatically praising his old rival Ray Kelly, Bratton also noted that there were missed opportunities to curb stop-and-frisk….
“Cops themselves felt that they were in a no-win position. They had an administration, Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly, who were demanding more and more and more. And the cops themselves felt, you know, it’s too much. And the community was saying it’s too much. It’s like a doctor giving too much chemotherapy: ‘Doctor I’m feeling better but you’re giving me all this chemo and I’m feeling worse again.’ ”

— The New York Times
Photo credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images

While diplomatically praising his old rival Ray Kelly, Bratton also noted that there were missed opportunities to curb stop-and-frisk….

“Cops themselves felt that they were in a no-win position. They had an administration, Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly, who were demanding more and more and more. And the cops themselves felt, you know, it’s too much. And the community was saying it’s too much. It’s like a doctor giving too much chemotherapy: ‘Doctor I’m feeling better but you’re giving me all this chemo and I’m feeling worse again.’ ”

The New York Times

Photo credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Willie Horton ad of the NYC election?
Republican candidate Joe Lhota’s latest ad, airing on broadcast television, argues that Democrat Bill de Blasio would take New York back to the dark ages of the past, when crime was rampant. But the part that drew the most heat was a 2-second segment in which a white woman is shown cowering behind a subway pole. As the camera zooms in on the woman, the black man behind her appears to grow larger and the ad more menacing. 
De Blasio attacked the commercial, comparing it to the infamous Willie Horton ad run during the 1988 Bush-Dukakis campaign. Horton was a black prisoner who raped a white woman while he was out on furlough.
More here.

The Willie Horton ad of the NYC election?

Republican candidate Joe Lhota’s latest ad, airing on broadcast television, argues that Democrat Bill de Blasio would take New York back to the dark ages of the past, when crime was rampant. But the part that drew the most heat was a 2-second segment in which a white woman is shown cowering behind a subway pole. As the camera zooms in on the woman, the black man behind her appears to grow larger and the ad more menacing. 

De Blasio attacked the commercial, comparing it to the infamous Willie Horton ad run during the 1988 Bush-Dukakis campaign. Horton was a black prisoner who raped a white woman while he was out on furlough.

More here.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Donovan Drayton, a 19 year old with no criminal record, spent five years behind bars, waiting for a trial.
The case was a serious one — he was involved in a drug-related robbery that ended in murder. But he says he had nothing to do with planning the crime, or the actual violence. And his lawyer thinks prosecutors let him stay in jail for years in the hopes that he’d eventually cop a plea. 
"Over the past decade, as New York City’s backlog of felony cases has grown, so too has the time defendants are spending behind bars before trial…. Of the people who spent time in jail during 2012, about 3,200 were behind bars for a year or more awaiting their day in court, according to city data.”
This summer, Donovan was acquitted of all but one count of weapons possession. He’s likely to get off with time served.
Check out the full story by Robert Lewis.
Photo courtesy Earl Douglas.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Donovan Drayton, a 19 year old with no criminal record, spent five years behind bars, waiting for a trial.

The case was a serious one — he was involved in a drug-related robbery that ended in murder. But he says he had nothing to do with planning the crime, or the actual violence. And his lawyer thinks prosecutors let him stay in jail for years in the hopes that he’d eventually cop a plea. 

"Over the past decade, as New York City’s backlog of felony cases has grown, so too has the time defendants are spending behind bars before trial…. Of the people who spent time in jail during 2012, about 3,200 were behind bars for a year or more awaiting their day in court, according to city data.”

This summer, Donovan was acquitted of all but one count of weapons possession. He’s likely to get off with time served.

Check out the full story by Robert Lewis.

Photo courtesy Earl Douglas.

Crime in New York City has come down dramatically since the early 1990s. Still, it’s worth going over these figures from the NYC Independent Budget Office, detailing the 12,287 people who were in the city’s jails on any given day (in fiscal year 2012), and why they were in.
Of all inmates, 57 percent were black, 33 percent Hispanic, 7 percent white, 1 percent Asian, and the rest other or unknown. 93 percent were male. 
As for the cost to taxpayers: $167,731 per inmate for one year.

Crime in New York City has come down dramatically since the early 1990s. Still, it’s worth going over these figures from the NYC Independent Budget Office, detailing the 12,287 people who were in the city’s jails on any given day (in fiscal year 2012), and why they were in.

Of all inmates, 57 percent were black, 33 percent Hispanic, 7 percent white, 1 percent Asian, and the rest other or unknown. 93 percent were male. 

As for the cost to taxpayers: $167,731 per inmate for one year.

Questlove just responded at length to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
But in his new book, “Mo Meta Blues,” the musician gives us a window into what it’s like to drive while black, no matter how accomplished one is.
On the very first day he drives his new car around — a Scion, the first car he’d ever owned — he was stopped by the police not once, not twice, but three times. Here’s what went down when the third cop stopped him, and recognized him.
p. 258.
"Tell me something," I said. "What’s the matter? Why am I a magnet for you guys tonight?"
"Oh," he said. "That’s easy. We’re in the Temple University neighborhood."
"Right," I said.
"And you’re in this car."
"And me in this car what?" I loved my Scion. It was part of my identity. I thought anything more lavish was the kind of thing a drug dealer would drive. This was the car of a thoughtful artist, a man who didn’t live through his material possessions.
"It’s the wrong car for you," he said. "It just doesn’t look right. If you were driving an SUV, you’d look like a professional football player. But this little thing sets off alarms. It looks like you took it from a college student."
Image from Flickr/Naoharu

Questlove just responded at length to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

But in his new book, “Mo Meta Blues,” the musician gives us a window into what it’s like to drive while black, no matter how accomplished one is.

On the very first day he drives his new car around — a Scion, the first car he’d ever owned — he was stopped by the police not once, not twice, but three times. Here’s what went down when the third cop stopped him, and recognized him.

p. 258.

"Tell me something," I said. "What’s the matter? Why am I a magnet for you guys tonight?"

"Oh," he said. "That’s easy. We’re in the Temple University neighborhood."

"Right," I said.

"And you’re in this car."

"And me in this car what?" I loved my Scion. It was part of my identity. I thought anything more lavish was the kind of thing a drug dealer would drive. This was the car of a thoughtful artist, a man who didn’t live through his material possessions.

"It’s the wrong car for you," he said. "It just doesn’t look right. If you were driving an SUV, you’d look like a professional football player. But this little thing sets off alarms. It looks like you took it from a college student."

Image from Flickr/Naoharu

Graduation Day at Sing Sing prison

Here’s an amazing statistic for you, about recidivism rates.

Of the 26,867 inmates who left New York prisons in 2008, nearly 40 percent returned to prison within 3 years. However, there are important exceptions: Among those are the maximum security inmates behind the walls of Sing Sing in Ossining, NY who have obtained a masters degree in Professional Studies — a one-year graduate degree administered by the New York Theological Seminary. Their recidivism rate over 31 years has been just 10 percent. The rate for those who’ve left with a degree in the last five years? ZERO.

"Education," said Dale Irvin, the president of New York Theological Seminary, "is the surest indicator of low recidivism rates."

Listen in to the latest Micropolis story and hear how a number of people — including convicted murderers — have turned their lives around while becoming assets to the prison community. 

Caracas, the biggest city in Venezuela, “has one of the highest homicide rates in the world; last year, in a city of three million, an estimated thirty-six hundred people were murdered, or about one every two hours.” — Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker
To put 3,600 murders in perspective, consider this: New York City, which has nearly three times as many residents as Caracas, had 414 homicides in 2012 — an all-time low.
If NYC had the same murder rate as Caracas, it would’ve experienced around 10,000 murders.
In 1990, during the darkest days of the crack epidemic and a nationwide spike in crime, New York saw 2,245 murders. But this month it had a run of 9 consecutive days without a single killing. That’s pretty amazing, and a couple decades ago, would’ve seemed impossible.
Let’s hope Caraqueños have the same sort of turnaround in store.
—Photo credit Leo Prieto

Caracas, the biggest city in Venezuela, “has one of the highest homicide rates in the world; last year, in a city of three million, an estimated thirty-six hundred people were murdered, or about one every two hours.” — Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker

To put 3,600 murders in perspective, consider this: New York City, which has nearly three times as many residents as Caracas, had 414 homicides in 2012 — an all-time low.

If NYC had the same murder rate as Caracas, it would’ve experienced around 10,000 murders.

In 1990, during the darkest days of the crack epidemic and a nationwide spike in crime, New York saw 2,245 murders. But this month it had a run of 9 consecutive days without a single killing. That’s pretty amazing, and a couple decades ago, would’ve seemed impossible.

Let’s hope Caraqueños have the same sort of turnaround in store.

—Photo credit Leo Prieto

Brooklyn-ite and Satmar Hasidic Jew Nechemya Weberman was sentenced to 103 years in prison today, for sexually abusing a girl who came to him for therapy. 
But ask any of his neighbors about the sentence and you’re unlikely to hear anyone voice criticism of Weberman.
I asked dozens of people on the streets of Williamsburg how they felt, and the vast majority declined to speak. Was it the Arctic cold? That probably played a part.
But most of them seemed more repelled by the subject matter. As one Hasidic source told me, over the phone: the issue is so toxic in the community that nobody wants to go public, whether they support Weberman or think he’s guilty. There’s also a sense, he said, that the media implicated not just the accuser, but the entire community.
The few people who did grant me interviews voiced support for Weberman, and suggested his accuser — who’s now 18 — was a badly-behaved girl who couldn’t be trusted.
One man, a 48-year-old factory manager named Reuven (no one gave me their last name either), said Weberman was the victim of a “revenge” plot.
Reuven said “everybody is hoping” the revenge argument would come out in the open during the appeals process.
Another man, Charlie, argued that the whole case was politically motivated — a way for Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes to prove his tough-on-crime credentials. Weberman, in Charlie’s view, was simply a scapegoat.
But the judge ruled in favor of the accuser, who said she had been abused from age 12 to 15. 
One Satmar resident, a woman named Rifki who runs a glove store, told me she was Weberman’s niece. She thinks he’ll ultimately be cleared.
"One nice day, he will show us that’s he going to come out of the jail and everybody’s going to see that he wasn’t guilty," said Rifki. "He was clean of anything that was put onto him."

Brooklyn-ite and Satmar Hasidic Jew Nechemya Weberman was sentenced to 103 years in prison today, for sexually abusing a girl who came to him for therapy. 

But ask any of his neighbors about the sentence and you’re unlikely to hear anyone voice criticism of Weberman.

I asked dozens of people on the streets of Williamsburg how they felt, and the vast majority declined to speak. Was it the Arctic cold? That probably played a part.

But most of them seemed more repelled by the subject matter. As one Hasidic source told me, over the phone: the issue is so toxic in the community that nobody wants to go public, whether they support Weberman or think he’s guilty. There’s also a sense, he said, that the media implicated not just the accuser, but the entire community.

The few people who did grant me interviews voiced support for Weberman, and suggested his accuser — who’s now 18 — was a badly-behaved girl who couldn’t be trusted.

One man, a 48-year-old factory manager named Reuven (no one gave me their last name either), said Weberman was the victim of a “revenge” plot.

Reuven said “everybody is hoping” the revenge argument would come out in the open during the appeals process.

Another man, Charlie, argued that the whole case was politically motivated — a way for Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes to prove his tough-on-crime credentials. Weberman, in Charlie’s view, was simply a scapegoat.

But the judge ruled in favor of the accuser, who said she had been abused from age 12 to 15.

One Satmar resident, a woman named Rifki who runs a glove store, told me she was Weberman’s niece. She thinks he’ll ultimately be cleared.

"One nice day, he will show us that’s he going to come out of the jail and everybody’s going to see that he wasn’t guilty," said Rifki. "He was clean of anything that was put onto him."

Candlelight vigil I attended last night in Union Square, NYC for Jyoti Singh Pandey, the victim of the brutal gang rape in New Delhi.

The vigil, organized by Sakhi, drew a lot of South Asian women, but also men, along with whites, African Americans, and others.

How is it that this one particular act of sexual violence, thousands of miles away, has resonated so deeply with Americans and others in the West?

"What I’m seeing for the first time, really, is American feminists and American women’s organizations seeing the moment in India as an opening for us to be talking about what’s going on in the United States as well," said Mallika Dutt, who heads the New York/New Delhi-based women’s rights group Breakthrough. "Women in the United States are saying ‘When are we going to see the day when we see young men in America really get out onto the streets and support ending violence against women there?’"

Many activists argue that the rape incident in India wasn’t the product of some far-flung, patriarchal society but speaks to global patterns of abuse.

"I don’t think we’ve had anything as galvanizing in sexual assault in more than 20 years, since the Central Park jogger case," said Sonia Ossorio, who heads the New York City chapter of NOW, the National Organization for Women. "We’re hearing from women, and men, and fathers every single day, here in our office."

Patrick Lemmon, co-founder or the Washington DC-based group Men Can Stop Rape, says the presence of so many men at demonstrations in India dovetails with contemporary efforts to involve American men in conversations about violence, before any crime is committed. And he’s hopeful that something good will ultimately emerge.

"We’ve seen tens of thousands of people gathering in the streets, talking about this issue in India, in ways that, from what I’m reading, has not happened before," he said. "So this is the real moment of possibility. It’s an incredible tragedy, and we have an opportunity, as a world and as the nation of India, to say ‘This is not who we are. We choose to be different.’"

Listen to my story on how “India’s Rape Case Prompts an American Dialogue”

I’ve been asking various 2nd amendment scholars what they think will emerge from the Newtown tragedy. Randy Barnett, a professor at George Washington University Law Center, had this to say — it sounds a lot like what gun owners in other states have told me in the past, that gun control advocates like Mayor Bloomberg are hypocrites:

"It is appalling to see this tragedy exploited to advance measures that would have done nothing to prevent it.  I want to know the types of weapons Mayor Bloomberg’s bodyguards use to protect his safety, and whether he will order them to disarm.  If not, why not?  Is his safety more important than that of mere citizens?”

Given the combative tone of the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre earlier today, we’re looking at a serious gun control brawl in the coming months.

See Mayor Bloomberg’s response to the NRA earlier today.

Mayor Bloomberg Responds to the NRA

Mayor Bloomberg, probably the country’s best-known gun control advocate, had this to say in response to the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre:

“The NRA’s Washington leadership has long been out of step with its members, and never has that been so apparent as this morning. Their press conference was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country. Instead of offering solutions to a problem they have helped create, they offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed and no place is safe. Leadership is about taking responsibility, especially in times of crisis. Today the NRA’s lobbyists blamed everyone but themselves for the crisis of gun violence. While they promote armed guards, they continue to oppose the most basic and common sense steps we can take to save lives - not only in schools, but in our movie theaters, malls, and streets. Enough. As a country, we must rise above special interest politics. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That’s why 74 percent of NRA members support common sense restrictions like criminal background checks for anyone buying a gun. It is time for Americans who care about the Second Amendment and reasonable gun restrictions to join together to work with the President and Congress to stop the gun violence in this country. Demand a plan.”  - Mayor Bloomberg, December 21, 2012

Like everyone else, I’ve found the Newtown coverage almost unbearable to follow, and yet that’s my job, so I read everything I can, and gaze at images of little coffins being carried into hearses.

There have been times over the past couple days when I’ve found myself inexplicably tired. And then I realize that this is my body’s response to the news: it’s exhausting to grow emotional every few hours.

What’s going to come of all this? Too early to say, and although terrible shooting tragedies have happened before, with no legislative impact, one activist I spoke to is feeling hopeful.

"I feel encouraged," said Jackie Hilly, who runs New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, "because I think the emotional component of what has happened in the last week, I really think it’s a turning point."

She turned to Civil Rights history to find an appropriate analogy.

"It’s reminiscent of the 4 girls being bombed at the church in Birmingham. There are certain episodes in our history that the tides just change, because the victims are so innocent."