Earlier today, Talib Kweli spoke before a raucous police reform rally just outside City Hall, and he let the crowd know what he really thinks of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the way he encourages the NYPD to treat some New Yorkers as “second-class” citizens.
“I wrote some things down but I just want start by telling y’all that I came here today because I love this city,” Mr. Kweli said to begin his speech. “This is the greatest city in the world, that’s why I’m here today. But I’m here today because this city could be greater.”
The rapper mainly focused on the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, which involves stopping and searching suspicious individuals for guns. In practice, this tactic overwhelmingly occurs in black and Latino neighborhoods, which Mr. Kweli said had the net effect of racism.
“In a fair and equal world, stop-and-frisk might make sense,” he explained. “But we don’t live in a fair and equal world. We live in a world where not everyone starts at the same place. We live in a world that was built on the backs of slaves, some of them are still buried right here under City Hall. You understand what I’m saying?”
Mr. Bloomberg has argued that stop-and-frisk isn’t racist, and those stopped are done so based on reasonable suspicion, not the color of their skin. Needless to say, Mr. Kweli didn’t sound impressed with this contention.
“To our mayor, instead of dissing all of these people–through voicing their concerns, through voicing their dissatisfaction, doing their duties and being patriots–instead of dissing them, you need to pay attention to them,” he exclaimed.
“I heard that man say that no one should ever be racially profiled,” he continued. “What world does that man live in? I don’t know, I don’t live in that world. You can’t stop racism with laws. You can’t legislate compassion. We will not allow you to support policies that encourage racism. We will not allow you to support policies that encourage racism. We will not stand for it. We will not stand to the side, we won’t have it.”
A number of elected officials attended today’s rally, including Councilman Jumaane Williams–whom Mr. Kweli called out by name from stage–and Mr. Williams’ colleagues Tish James and Brad Lander. At least one potential mayoral candidate was spotted as well: Comptroller John Liu. But despite his criticism of Mr. Bloomberg, Mr. Kweli told reporters after his speech that he hadn’t picked a favorite pol to replace the current occupant of Gracie Mansion.
“I don’t have any politician that I simply support,” he said. “As long as all these politicians are here because they really believe in it.”