In many ways, the story of Occupy Wall Street’s May Day protest yesterday is much more about what didn’t happen than what did. There were no mass arrests or massive traffic disruptions and workers didn’t walk off their jobs en masse. In total, the NYPD said there were “over 50″ Occupy-related arrests yesterday, a far cry from the hundreds of arrests that accompanied previous Occupy actions.
After months of dealing with the protests, the police have clearly adapted to Occupy. Last night, the NYPD managed to clear the crowd that gathered for the May Day finale rally within thirty minutes without the pepper spray and arrests of press and politicans that led to controversy at past protests.
War & Peace
Council member Jumaane Williams is getting behind the push to have a ticker tape parade in New York for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Williams introduced a resolution in support of a parade at the Council’s Stated Meeting today.
“I am proud to author a bill that will hopefully push forward the ‘welcome home’ that our nation’s veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so rightfully deserve,” Mr. Williams said in a statement announcing the resolution. “While I am generally opposed to war, including these particular conflicts, I recognize that those who volunteer with the aspiration of doing good for their family and their country should be given the highest regard for their commitment and sacrifice.”
Jumaane Williams made the best April Fool’s day prank we’ve seen so far this year from any New York politician . The Brooklyn Council member, who has emerged as a sharp critic of the Bloomberg administration since being elected in 2009, issued a prank statement today announcing he was “signed by the New York Knicks to a ten day contract.” Mr. William’s press release claimed he was asked to join the team “shortly following the announcement that starting point guard Jeremy Lin would be out for the remainder of the regular season.”
“It will be far easier to win an NBA championship than to convince Mayor Bloomberg to restore budget cuts to our youth and seniors,” Mr. Williams said. “The Garden may be missing ‘Linsanity’ over the next several weeks, but I hope to bring some ‘Jumaanity’ of my own.”
Law & Order
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly fielded questions on the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk and Muslim surveillance programs during a contentious hearing of the City Council Public Safety Committee. Mr. Kelly was ostensibly testifying about the NYPD’s preliminary budget for the coming fiscal year, but the hearing quickly turned into a heated discussion of the department’s most controversial policies when committee members questioned the commissioner following his testimony.
Dozens of members of the City Council and advocates of police reform from across New York crowded in front of City Hall today for a raucous rally calling for a sharp curtailment of the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policies.
“If you want to go where the numbers and the money is, you would be stopping and frisking every white man with a jacket and a suit and a tie, because he may be committing a financial crime that cause poor people to make bad decisions,” said Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams, who is one of the lead sponsors of a piece of legislation that ends current stop-and-frisk practices. “We are doing this in communities that are outliers. We are doing this in communities that you feel you can get away with it.”
Multiple sources inside the City Council have told The Politicker the race between Frank Seddio and Mercedes Narcisse to potentially succeed Councilman Lew Fidler in Brooklyn’s 46th District had a major impact on the vote for leadership of the Council’s Brooklyn delegation. Council members are voted to elect a chair of the Brooklyn delegation this afternoon and the main nominees were Jumaane Williams, David Greenfield and Darlene Mealy. Mr. Greenfield and Ms. Mealy won the vote and some insiders believe Mr. Williams was not elected to one of the chair positions because he hasn’t endorsed Mr. Seddio.
“If it were important for him to be Brooklyn delegation chair, he’s been told he would need to support Frank Seddio in order to ensure the votes in the delegation,” a Council insider said. “There is obviously pressure being put on Jumaane.”
Mr. Seddio vociferously denied the idea his race played a role in the Brooklyn leadership vote.
“I don’t believe that for one second that that’s the case,” he said. “I have no role in it. I’m flattered that I get something to say about something I have no title to. I wasn’t aware of it. I know nothing about it.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilman Jumaane Williams held a press conference outside City Hall yesterday where they called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to end the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy in the wake of a report by the New York Civil Liberties Union showing the police department stopped and interrogated a record number of people last year. The NYCLU report showed the NYPD conducted stop-and-frisks 684,330, the highest total since the department began collecting stop-and-frisk statistics in 2002 and a 603 percent increase since that year. About 87 percent of those stopped and frisked were black or Latino.
“This report, I think, makes it very clear that it is time to end this policy of stop and frisk as presently constituted,” Mr. Stringer said. “Communities of people who are caucasian, people who look like me, never worry about their child or grandchild going to the store for a glass of milk. They’re not worried about the police, they welcome the police on their street corner.”
The Wall Street Journal reported today that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a top-tier mayoral contender in 2013, penned a letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly criticizing the police’s “stop-and-frisk” policy. In the letter, Ms. Quinn wrote that the policy “has been carried out in a way that has sewn distrust in communities of color.”
This afternoon, one of the most prominent opponents of the stop-and-frisk policy, Councilman Jumaane Williams, sent out a statement cheering Ms. Quinn on.
“I thank Speaker Quinn for sending this letter; it is a hopeful step forward for the police accountability movement. This is a focus on getting safer streets and better policing for all New Yorkers,” he said. “We need reform because a system that promotes or permits discriminatory justice benefits no one, including the police officers who work hard every day in our communities.”
social media excitement!
Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows the New York Giants whipped up an impressive victory in the Super Bowl last night. However, even rock-dwellers were aware of the news if they were friends with any elected officials on Facebook.
Generally, the excited politicians’ responses needed at least five exclamation marks.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and State Senator Marty Golden were examples of this. Ms. Crowley wrote “NY Giants XLVI Super Bowl Champions!!!!!” while Mr. Golden wrote “Congratulations to the SuperBowl Champions the New York Giants!!!!!! Go Big Blue.”
Councilman Jumaane Williams, who correctly predicted the score of the game, might have been the most excited of them all. “UH…Yeah! We did it again. ANY DAMN QUESTIONS!!!!!!!” he declared, adding “WHOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!” He also had another “WHOAA” post containing 50 exclamation marks.