Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Prosecutors open probe into Sheldon Silver over law firm payments

By Jamie Schram

The FBI and prosecutors from Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office are probing Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in connection with money he received from a small law firm that specializes in arranging real-estate tax reductions.
The firm, Goldberg & Iryami P.C., made the payments over about a decade — but Silver failed to list the income on his financial-disclosure forms, a source told The Post.
The prosecutors from Bharara’s office want to find out exactly what Silver did to earn the money, the source added. The payments from the law firm were “not substantial,’’ the source said.
The investigation is “moving along slowly,’’ the source added.
The probe grew out of the investigation conducted by the Moreland Commission panel looking into corruption in Albany that was abruptly shut down by Gov. Cuomo, according to The New York Times.
Among the issues it had been looking into is how state lawmakers earn money from their non-government jobs.
Silver is a personal-injury lawyer associated with the firm of Weitz and Luxenberg.
Goldberg & Iryami specializes in an arcane form of law known as “tax certiorari,’’ according to the Times.
That involves challenging real- estate tax assessments and seeking reductions for developers who own residential or commercial property.
It appears to have only two lawyers, according to the Times.
Since 2001, the newspaper said, the firm and its principals have made six donations to Silver, totaling $7,600.
The most recent was in February, when it gave him $1,800.
The Times added that the small law firm has sought tax reductions for many properties on the Lower East Side, which is the area Silver represents.
Among the buildings the firm has represented is Silver’s own co-op, as well as a commercial building nearby that houses his campaign committee, according to the Times.
The speaker has long been a controversial figure.
Silver has faced criticism over how he handled allegations of sexual misconduct of one of his top aides in 2003.
He became ensnared in the Vito Lopez sex-harassment case when it became public that he hired two firms to defend the disgraced former assemblyman, spending nearly $700,000 in public funds.
Silver was nearly ousted as Assembly speaker by his fellow Democrats in 2000 when they unexpectedly challenged his leadership position.
Silver, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the new probe.
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile

The Opinion Pages

Police Respect Squandered in Attacks on de Blasio

Acts of passive-aggressive contempt aimed at Mayor Bill de Blasio by New York police officers are disgraceful, and they are damaging the department’s credibility.

Credit Shannon Stapleton/Reuters 
Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments — a funeral of a fallen colleague — and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. In doing so, they also turned their backs on Mr. Ramos’s widow and her two young sons, and others in that grief-struck family. 

After the Killings, Bill de Blasio and Bill Bratton Now Have the Most Critical Relationship in New York

De Blasio and Bratton at the police-promotions ceremony on December 19.  
Photo: Mark Peterson/Redux
It’s late afternoon on Friday, December 19, and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is surprisingly serene. Fourteen floors below his office at One Police Plaza protesters are massing, once again, to block the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. They’re chanting, “Hey, ho! Racist cops have got to go!” as a smaller, pro-cop rally starts to gather directly across the street. In the waiting room outside Bratton’s office, the flat-screen TV tuned to NY1 is playing and replaying cell-phone video showing an NYPD plainclothes cop punching a suspect as he is being handcuffed.
Bratton is concerned, certainly. Yet he remains visibly unruffled, reclining in a leather armchair. A puppet replica of his late great sidekick and co-strategist, the former deputy police commissioner Jack Maple, is propped on a shelf. Yes, Bratton says, in hindsight it was probably a bad idea to sit on one side of the mayor with the Reverend Al Sharpton on the other at a City Hall press conference back in July, after the death of Eric Garner. True, his first year back atop the NYPD has been stressful, particularly in the past month. Two weeks ago, on the afternoon a Staten Island grand jury announced it would not indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who had wrapped his arm around Garner’s neck, Bratton was briefly hospitalized for dehydration.
The fresh Garner controversy came against the backdrop of the “fraying” relationship between cops and community that he inherited, Bratton says: “Commissioner Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg seemed to be somewhat tone-deaf that stop, question, and frisk was causing a lot of growing tension.” Now the protests have taken their own toll. Morale in the NYPD is not good, and he knows it’s a serious problem that his officers feel besieged. The media haven’t helped, Bratton says, with their portrayals of his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The New York Post hates him with a passion,” he says. “If the cops are reading the Post, they’re not going to like the mayor, because it’s hanging the mayor 24 hours a day.” Not that he thinks the other side of the ideological-­journalistic aisle has been much better: “The New York Times doesn’t particularly like him because he’s not far enough to the left for where they want to be. Most of the cops aren’t reading the Times in any event — they just see it as the enemy because it’s been leading the charge on the racial profiling and the allegations of racism.”
All the phony controversies, Bratton insists, misrepresent de Blasio: “This guy’s heart is in the right place. He likes cops. He appreciates what they do.” Six days earlier, two officers were attacked and injured during a protest on the Brooklyn Bridge. Did the mayor visit them in the hospital? Bratton’s temperature and volume rises. “Anytime a cop’s injured, he calls me to get their number. He’s come to the hospital with me. Let’s stop the bullshit.”
But the moment passes quickly. Despite all the turmoil, the department has kept crime at historic lows, and Bratton says de Blasio has given him an extra $200 million to spend on retraining and technology, so next year will be even better. “The test of leadership is in crises, not when things are running very well,” he says. “Look at the crises that have occurred here this year. They’ve been dealt with without the place going up in flames.” He smiles. Sure, it’s been a tough stretch, but Christmas is right around the corner.
The corner of Tompkins and Myrtle Avenues the day after officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed. Photo: null/Anadolu Agency
Less than 24 hours later, the city was aflame, at least emotionally, and Bratton’s eyes were brimming with tears. Two cops sitting in a patrol car in Brooklyn had been shot and killed by a gunman who then shot himself. Rumors were swirling that the killer’s Instagram postings said he was motivated by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. As de Blasio and Bratton entered a press conference at Woodhull Medical Center that night, moments after meeting with the heartbroken families of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, cops lining the hallway turned their backs on the mayor and his commissioner in a stunning act of disrespect. An hour later, the ugliness escalated, with the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president, Pat Lynch, roaring that de Blasio’s lenient treatment of demonstrators was to blame. “There’s blood on many hands tonight,” he said, standing on a hospital ramp just after the ambulances carrying the bodies of Liu and Ramos pulled away. “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor.”
It was an outrageous claim. But Lynch’s diatribe played on anger in the ranks that had been building, even among the many fair-minded cops, since the 2013 campaign, abetted by a contract stalemate between the city and the PBA. Now, in the aftermath of the shootings, the combination of grief and grievance threatened to eclipse not just de Blasio’s first-year accomplishments but his next three years in office.
Until December, the mayor had been heading to a mostly upbeat finish to his rookie year. He cruised into office with 72 percent of the general-election vote, promising to lead a progressive crusade, and is indeed tugging New York leftward on social and economic policy, from wages to immigration to speed limits. He started 2014 in a protracted public wrangle with Governor Andrew Cuomo and emerged bruised but with $300 million in state money to expand the city’s prekindergarten programs, delivering on one of his main campaign promises. He has since negotiated union contract deals with more than two-thirds of city employees, combining raises with medical-benefits changes that could end up saving the city millions of dollars. His administration’s preparation for an Ebola case was impressively thorough, and the mayor’s response to the city’s lone patient was nimble.
But those victories have come with a growing recognition of the complicated necessities of keeping the city running efficiently — and of tending to the old-­politics power realities. So, for instance, de Blasio’s vow to create or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing has meant not running afoul of the real-estate developers he needs to build those apartments.
His dealings with Bratton and the NYPD are a crucial case in point. The tragedy in Bed-Stuy highlighted the high-wire act that came to define de Blasio’s first year in City Hall and also the challenges he faces in fulfilling his populist pledges while maintaining the city’s stability. In 2013, de Blasio’s campaign flayed the NYPD’s overuse of stop and frisk. That helped him win the election, but it left much of the rank and file feeling as if they were being blamed for all the evils of racism. The Garner protests have bred more skepticism and bitterness toward de Blasio within the Police Department. Yet the same cops for whom he’s mandated retraining are the ones the mayor needs to keep crime low. De Blasio’s goal is to fundamentally change how his officers police without undermining Bratton and alienating the force. The mayor’s first year has been about learning how to walk that line. And lately he’s been lucky to have a strong partner to lean on when he stumbles.
Outside City Hall on December 19, where protesters and supporters of the NYPD faced off. Photo: Mark Peterson/Redux
They don’t seem like natural allies. Bill Bratton, 67, became internationally famous as the tough-guy police commissioner for tough-guy Republican mayor Rudy Giuliani, cleaning up the city in the early ’90s with a combination of computer crime tracking and an aggressive crackdown on low-level, “quality of life” offenses like fare-beating, a cluster of tactics given the catchy name “broken windows.” Bill de Blasio, 53, spent his formative professional years as a left-of-center operative in Democratic politics, then won an upset victory in last year’s mayoral race by championing the city’s have-nots; a sizable portion of his political base believes “broken windows” is inherently racist. When Bratton was a young beat cop in Boston, he policed civil-rights and antiwar demonstrations in which de Blasio could have easily been a protester. (“No, I would have noticed him, he’s so tall,” Bratton says with a laugh.) These days, Bratton spends his off-duty time with one-percenters who he says disdain the mayor; de Blasio’s downtime is more likely to be spent sweating in souvenir T-shirts at the Park Slope Y.
But both men are deeply ambitious, and two years ago they found themselves with overlapping needs. Bratton, even after more than six successful years as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, yearned for a second shot in New York, a chance to erase the bad ending of his first tour at One Police Plaza, where Giuliani chased out Bratton for stealing the spotlight. De Blasio, the lefty long shot, saw in Bratton not just a proven crime-fighter but a man who could cover for him with the city’s Establishment. And both wanted to show they could bridge the divide between cops and minority New Yorkers.
There have been firestorms (over the cop-bashing boyfriend of Rachel Noerdlinger, de Blasio’s wife’s chief of staff) and setbacks (the accidental shooting death, by an East New York housing cop, of 28-year-old Akai Gurley). But the mayor and the police commissioner were still making steady headway in some ways, driving down both the number of stop and frisks and the number of homicides. And when their biggest test loomed, the release of the Garner-grand-jury decision, they tried to get ahead of the trouble. The mayor rolled out announcements of declining crime statistics and plans to equip cops with body cameras earlier than originally intended.
On December 3, when the grand jury decided against indicting Pantaleo, de Blasio traveled to Staten Island to meet privately with aggrieved family members and community leaders. Then he delivered an impassioned speech in a church. Back at City Hall, the mayor’s aides were closely monitoring social media for reaction, poised to promote the speech’s themes on Twitter with an assortment of hashtags. But then they saw that de Blasio’s use of the slogan “Black lives matter” in the speech registered with viewers organically and attached to positive tweets.
Many cops, and mainstream media outlets, picked up on a different passage: de Blasio’s description of “training” his son, Dante, to be wary of encounters with police officers. The mayor’s empathy was appropriate. But de Blasio, in his Staten Island speech, missed an opportunity. If he had gone on to talk about how thousands of teenagers, black as well as white, are able to walk home safely at night thanks to the NYPD, he might have won the respect of cops who were looking for de Blasio to be a passionate mayor for the entire city.
Instead, on December 12, Lynch, the PBA boss, launched an inflammatory campaign to ban de Blasio from any future NYPD funerals. The next night, two cops on the Brooklyn Bridge were attacked and injured, sending one to the hospital with a broken nose. This was a turning point in the protests that had been weaving and splintering their way through city streets, peacefully if noisily, for almost two weeks. Two days after the bridge mess, Bratton had vouched for de Blasio, testily declaring that the mayor “misspoke” in describing the assaults as “alleged.” Then Bratton went on to not-so-subtly pressure de Blasio to start making an effort to wind down the protests by declaring that they’d cost the city $22.9 million in overtime and were becoming “a significant drain on the manpower of the city.”
Pro-Police and Anti-Police Protests Photo: Mark Peterson/Redux
The next afternoon, four days before the shootings in Bed-Stuy, the mayor is just getting off the phone with Bratton. The police commissioner had described the briefing he’d just completed, over at One Police Plaza, which included unveiling photos of the seven people wanted in the Brooklyn Bridge attacks. On his end of the conversation, the mayor told Bratton of his plans to meet with members of the Justice League NYC — not the team of comic-book super­heroes but a group of protest leaders.
De Blasio steps from behind Fiorello La Guardia’s old desk and settles into a red upholstered chair. In front of him is a table piled with policy binders, family photos, and newspapers — the clutter looks as if it had been transferred straight from his cramped family home in Park Slope. He’s jacketless, in white shirtsleeves and a red tie with gold dots, and does his best to sound relaxed. “I think I’ve always felt a sort of familiarity and a comfort in the relationship with him just on a human level, just a human connection, in part because we come from some of the same reality,” de Blasio says of Bratton. “It was always clear to me that we would be philosophically kindred.”
For all the personal bonding and professional teamwork, though, the way he and Bratton have handled the tumultuous end of 2014 has been driving down de Blasio’s job-approval ratings — and opening a huge racial split — in public polls. The mayor brushes off the validity and importance of those surveys. Does his own polling show anything different? “I am not,” de Blasio says sharply, “getting into my own polling.”
He is, however, unrestrained in defending the speech he’d given on the day of the Garner decision and says its description of his warnings to Dante has been distorted. “I’ve tried to do a lot this year to support the police, to support the commissioner, to support the department. Throughout that whole process, I didn’t hear people saying we’re concerned about what you said about your son very openly last year,” the mayor says. “The way [Garner] died, his voice, his family, what we learned afterwards, I think it left just a deep, searing pain for so many people. And so what I wanted to say was that I understood in some form what people were feeling and that I was committed to the changes we needed. People were searching for a direction, and that’s what a leader is supposed to do, provide some sense of where we’re going and some sense of solace, and so I’m very comfortable with what I did.”
Beyond the uproar over the NYPD there has also been, in New York’s business and cultural communities, a growing sense that de Blasio is indifferent to important sectors of city life. “If it doesn’t fit in the inequality bucket, he’s not interested,” a banking executive says. Some of that feeling is, as one real-estate executive puts it, “a Bloomberg hangover” ­— after 12 years of their being lavished with attention, the shift in focus to the city’s marginalized has been disorienting for the elites. But there’s more at work than the whining of Wall Streeters. Even Democrats sympathetic to the mayor’s policy objectives have been disappointed by what they believe is his limited range. “He sees the world through the lens of the people he has to make happy — this narrow world of Democratic-primary politics,” a strategist says. “Yeah, you’re gonna get reelected, but you’re not going to be a good mayor if you’re governing for 10 percent of the city.”
De Blasio bristles at the suggestion that his words on Staten Island, and his larger agenda, are pitched solely to his political base. “Well, nothing could be farther from the truth,” he says, leaning forward, his jaw clenched. “I think the facts are a vast percentage of our population will qualify for the affordable-housing program. The universal pre-K program was universal. I’ve spoken to upper-middle-class parents who have benefited, and I’ve spoken to several of the lowest-income in the city who have benefited. I think we’ve been able to drive down crime in a lot of major categories. That affects everyone. People across the board wanted to see reform of stop and frisk. I mean, we’re executing the platform. This is what we came here to do. It is still about the tale of two cities. It’s about healing that and changing that and creating actual material change in people’s lives.”
Now, though, de Blasio’s challenge is governing a city where millions still haven’t made up their minds about him — while trying to regain the trust of his Police Department.
One hundred and eleven cops are smiling. They have good reason to be happy, early on the afternoon of December 19: They’re in full-dress uniform, surrounded by proud family members, marching into an auditorium at One Police Plaza to be promoted to detective. The NYPD band is playing “Louie Louie.” Then a stirring video, A Day in the NYPD, is projected onto three massive screens hanging from the ceiling. It’s full of scenes of cops shaking hands with grocers, strapping on bulletproof vests, and keeping a benevolently watchful eye over the city.
Before their names are called —­ Algabyali and Espinal and Yoon as well as McAloon and Vitello, a vivid illustration of the inspiring ethnic diversity of the modern department — and their detective certificates distributed, the cops listen to speeches. First up is the mayor, whose schedule today is a reminder of the straddle de Blasio is attempting: This morning was his meeting with leaders of the Justice League, and now he’s addressing the people the Justice League has been protesting.
De Blasio says all the right words in his speech to the rising detectives, and he no doubt believes what he’s saying. “Any act of violence against our police officers is an act of violence against our values,” he says. “On behalf of all 8.4 million New Yorkers, I want to thank you.” Yet his manner is deferential instead of commanding. He stands with his left hand in his pants pocket, and there’s little sense of personal connection with his audience. It’s Bratton, up next, who stirs spirits.
An hour later, up in his office, I ask the police commissioner about another speech he gave recently, at the Association for a Better New York, in which Bratton laid out a strong defense of “broken windows” policing. “Stopping small things before they get big is essential,” Bratton had told the business group. Wasn’t he, unfortunately, proved right on the Brooklyn Bridge? Hadn’t weeks of managed disruptions led to worse behavior, the attacks on his officers? “It hasn’t led to worse behavior, except among a small group that was intent on creating behavior because there was not enough happening,” Bratton says. Right, but isn’t that the point of the anti-crime theory to which he’s deeply loyal, that if minor disorder isn’t addressed, it inevitably grows? Not in this instance, he argues. “If anything, that was the frustration: that there was not enough police misbehavior, because what they want to do is provoke misbehavior, and it wasn’t happening. So it’s not a contradiction with ‘broken windows.’ Policing is all about situation. You police to the situation.”
Bratton clearly recognized the urgency of the situation after the shootings in Bed-Stuy. He went on the Today show and said the murders were “a direct spinoff” of the protests. It was a highly charged statement, but it appeared to have the desired jolting effect: Six hours later, at a Police Athletic League lunch, de Blasio called for a temporary moratorium on protests. Behind the scenes, Bratton brokered a time-out with union leaders. The combination may provide a chance for the mayor to lower the rhetorical heat and for Bratton to shore up his credibility inside the NYPD. City Hall and One Police Plaza insist the two men are closer than ever. But the mayor is emerging from this drama even more dependent on his police commissioner.
In the longer run, the risk for Bratton is that cops become cautious, unwilling to take the risks that keep everyone safe because they’ll be villainized for any mistakes. Bratton says he hasn’t seen any evidence that cops are on their heels. Besides, he’s lived through worse racial animosity, back in the hometown that formed both him and de Blasio. As a young cop in Boston in the ’70s, Bratton witnessed the vicious reaction to forced desegregation of the schools, especially in Dorchester, the blue-collar Irish-Polish neighborhood where he grew up.
“You wondered, How could this ever get better?” he says. “Attitudes have changed dramatically. The Boston experience makes me very optimistic about dealing with the issues we’re dealing with now.” He says that the brutal murders in Bed-Stuy, and the war of words with the unions, won’t make it more difficult to achieve the vision he and de Blasio have set out — of a fairer, safer city for everyone. “Not at all,” Bratton says two days before Christmas, as he prepares to head to Boston to visit his 89-year-old father. “If anything, it’s moved things back to the center. There was a very heavy leaning of momentum toward the demonstrations. Now that this awful tragedy has occurred, it’s kind of changed some of the dynamics of the discussion. It’s allowed breathing room for the issues with the union and the mayor, even with the demonstrators. I’m optimistic that out of this we’ll find some degree of common ground. There really is no other option, is there?” The city has to hope Bratton is right. Though it says a great deal about the volatility of the current moment that anyone would think a comparison to the 1970s is reassuring.
*This article appears in the December 29, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.

Monday, December 29, 2014

N.Y.P.D. Officers Earn Disrespect - Except One Of Them

December 28, 2014

Officers of the world's seventh biggest army, the New York Police Department, defied their commander in chief, mayor de Blasio, by turning their back to him while he gave a funeral eulogy for one of them. de Blasio had earlier refrained from endorsing the killing of an unarmed black man by some N.Y.P.T. officers. Such racist murder by policemen is a regular occurrence in New York.
One officer though did not follow the sheeple.

Billmon rightly compares the picture above with this one. It was shot, I believe, in 1936 in Hamburg, Germany.

The story did not end well for the man in 1936. How will it end for the black N.Y.P.D. officer?
de Blasio should fire every officer that defied him. That likely would not even increase the number of criminals on New York's streets. They would only no longer wear a uniform.
Posted by b on December 28, 2014 at 08:00 AM | Permalink
Thank you for finding that picture. I was disgusted when I saw black officers turn they're back on the Mayor. Some of his policies I do not necessarily agree with (supporting Israel for one)but to turn their backs shows a great deal disrespect not only for Mayor DeBalsio but all the residents of NYC. I am sorry but the NYC police must earn the respect of the people. If I do something wrong then I must be held accountable same applies to them. Just because you are a police officer does not mean you are immune. I hold DeBalsio does not buckle from this and maybe he's the one to finally fix this corrupt Nazi fascist union that believe they themselves are above the law. Enough. Below is an article stating even black officers fear fellow white officers when they are out of uniform. Does not surprise. Meet the new KKK. Same as the old with the uniform being a different color.

Posted by: NewYorker | Dec 28, 2014 8:29:39 AM | 1
"...de Blasio should fire every officer that defied him. That likely would not even increase the number of criminals on New York's streets."
It's been done... and, no, crime didn't rise. It actually went down.
Posted by: Monolycus | Dec 28, 2014 8:45:26 A

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Bill de Blasio: Victim of NYPD Abuse

Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their children, Chiara and Dante, arriving for his inauguration as New York City’s mayor. (photo: Uli Seit/NYT)
Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their children, Chiara 
and Dante, arriving for his inauguration as New York City’s mayor. 
(photo: Uli Seit/NYT)

By Marc Ash, 
Reader Supported News
28 December 14

ill de Blasio came to the office of New York City Mayor with an agenda for reform of the New York City Police Department. He is quickly finding out why his predecessors have had so much difficulty accomplishing the very same thing.
The NYPD is the nation’s largest police department. It is also one of the most corrupt, violent and entrenched. The NYPD is also very savvy in the political ways of “The Big Apple.”
When NYPD officers turn their backs to de Blasio, one of their objectives is to get him off their backs. This was planned before the killings of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. As early as December 12th, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) was promoting a de Blasio shunning to its members, with the admonishment “Don’t Let Them Insult Your Sacrifice!” referring to Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
De Blasio has been very open about his desire for reform within the NYPD, and the police have been just as open about their determination that it will never happen.
The NYPD and the PBA, on behalf of the officers, paint this as an officer safety issue. “City officials who want reform cost cops their lives.” Not racist murders of unarmed New Yorkers – that of course never creates animosity toward the police. But it does.
In fact, nothing puts the lives of America’s police officers in greater jeopardy faster than racially motivated, unjustified killings. If Eric Garner had not been needlessly killed, where would we be today? Would officers Liu and Ramos still be alive?
There is an apparent perception on the part of the NYPD rank and file and their union representatives that attempts at reform are somehow bad for the department and the safety of the officers. In fact transparency, accountability, the right training, and attracting better educated personnel are the very things that would make officers and the public they serve more safe.
What is really behind the well planned attacks on de Blasio and the long standing resistance to change within the department is a desire on the part of the NYPD old guard to maintain their power structure.
The well choreographed insult to de Blasio at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos was not only an insult to the mayor, but to the dignity of the people of the city of New York.
At a time when unity is important to the police, the community, and the city fathers, the NYPD and the PBA have chosen cheap-shot, self-serving politics as the legacy of the two fallen officers, amounting to yet another tragedy.
No good is served by police officers dying. A great deal of good will result from the death of the NYPD old-guard power structure.
To accomplish that, de Blasio will be tested.

Marc Ash was formerly the founder and Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.

Cuba, North Korea and Getting Sanctions Right

Former president Jimmy Carter. (photo: Sara Saunders/The Carter Center)
Former president Jimmy Carter. (photo: Sara Saunders/The Carter Center)

By Jimmy Carter, The Washington Post
27 December 14

s we contemplate how to strike back at North Korea because it is believed to be behind the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s computer network, the foremost proposal is tightening sanctions. In my visits to targeted countries, I have seen how this strategy can be cruel to innocent people who know nothing about international disputes and are already suffering under dictatorial leaders.
The imposition of economic embargoes on unsavory regimes is most often ineffective and can be counterproductive. In Cuba, where the news media are controlled by the government, many people are convinced that their economic plight is caused by the United States and that they are being defended by the actions of their Communist leaders, who are therefore strengthened in power. I have visited the homes of both Castro brothers and some of the regime’s other top officials, and it is obvious that their living conditions have not suffered because of the embargo. Many Cuban families are deprived of good incomes, certain foods, cellphones, Internet access and basic freedoms, but at least they have access to a good education and health care, and they live in a tropical environment where the soil is productive and where some fortunate families may have trees that bear bananas and other fruit. In addition, Cubans receive about $2 billion annually in remittances from friends and relatives in the United States.
The situation is more tragic in North Korea, where none of these advantages exist. The U.S. embargo, imposed 64 years ago at the start of the Korean War, has been more strictly enforced, with every effort made to restrict or damage North Korea’s economy. During my visits to Pyongyang, I have had extensive discussions with government officials and forceful female leaders who emphasized the plight of people who were starving. The United Nations’ World Food Program estimates that at least 600 grams of cereal per day is needed for a “survival ration” and that the daily food distribution in North Korea has at times been as low as 128 grams. In 1998, U.S. congressional staffers who visited the country reported a range of 300,000 to 800,000 dying each year from starvation.
In 2001, the Carter Center arranged for North Korean agricultural leaders to go to Mexico to learn how to increase production of their indigenous crops, and the U.S. contribution of grain rose to 695,000 tons in the late 1990s during a brief period of U.S.-North Korean reconciliation. However, the contribution was drastically reduced under President George W. Bush and then terminated completely by President Obama in 2010. I visited the State Department then and was told that the main problem was North Korea’s refusal to permit any supervision of food deliveries.
In 2011, I returned to North Korea, accompanied by former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson and former prime minister of Norway Gro Brundtland, a physician who had been director of the World Health Organization. We stopped first in Beijing for briefings from regional World Food Program officials, who said there were no restraints on monitoring of food deliveries to families in North Korea. They followed us to Pyongyang and accompanied us to rural areas where tiny food allotments were being distributed to families. The government gave an official guarantee that all such food deliveries could be monitored by the United States and other donors. I reported this to Washington, with the assessment that one-third of North Korean children were malnourished and stunted in their growth and that daily food intake was between 700 and 1,400 calories per person, compared with a normal American’s 2,000 to 2,500. Our government took no action.
There is no excuse for oppression by a dictatorial regime, but the degree of harsh treatment depends at least partially on the dissatisfaction of the citizens. Starving people are more inclined to demand relief from their plight, protest and be punished or executed. As in Cuba, the political elite in North Korea do not suffer, and the leaders’ all-pervasive propaganda places the blame for deprivation on the United States, not themselves. The primary objective of dictators is to stay in office, and we help them achieve this goal by punishing their already suffering subjects and letting them claim to be saviors.
When non-military pressure on a government is considered necessary, economic sanctions should be focused on travel, foreign bank accounts and other special privileges of government officials who make decisions, not on destroying the economy that determines the living conditions of oppressed people.

Maritza Ramos, center, the widow of Officer Rafael Ramos, with her two sons at the funeral for her husband on Saturday.
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Maritza Ramos, center, the widow of Officer Rafael Ramos, with her two sons at the funeral for her husband on Saturday.
More than 20,000 police officers came together for the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, who was fatally shot in his patrol car on Dec. 20, at Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens.
Police officers turned away from Mayor Bill de Blasio during the funeral of Rafael Ramos.
Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
Police officers turned away from Mayor Bill de Blasio during the funeral of Rafael Ramos.
As Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, scores of mourning police officers turned their backs to him, a sign of the discontent he faces.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

At New York Midnight Mass, a Call for Renewed Faith

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan delivered the homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday night, pointing to the tensions that have beset the city recently.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Top News

New York Police Try to Trace History of Violent Day

Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who the authorities say shot and killed Rafael Ramos, below left, and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn on Saturday, had a history of firearm arrests and was accused of shooting his former girlfriend earlier in the day in Maryland.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Citigroup to Move Headquarters to U.S. Capitol Building

U.S. Capitol building. (photo:  Wikimedia Commons)
U.S. Capitol building. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
14 December 14
The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."
he banking giant Citigroup announced on Friday that it would move its headquarters from New York to the U.S. Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C., in early 2015.
Tracy Klugian, a spokesperson for Citi, said that the company had leased thirty thousand square feet of prime real estate on the floor of the House of Representatives and would be interviewing “world-class architects” to redesign the space to suit its needs.
According to sources, Citi successfully outbid other firms, including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, for the right to move its headquarters to the House floor.
The Citi spokesperson acknowledged that the extensive makeover of the House is expected to cost “in the millions,” but added, “It’s always expensive to open a new branch.”
Explaining the rationale behind the move, Klugian told reporters, “Instead of constantly flying out from New York to give members of Congress their marching orders, Citigroup executives can be right on the floor with them, handing them legislation and telling them how to vote. This is going to result in tremendous cost savings going forward.”
Klugian said that Citi’s chairman, Michael E. O’Neill, will not occupy a corner office on the House floor, preferring instead an “open plan” that will allow him to mingle freely with members of Congress.
“He doesn’t want to come off like he’s their boss,” the spokesperson said. “Basically, he wants to send the message, ‘We’re all on the same team. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get stuff done.’ ”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Puerto Rican Leaders Applaud Obama's Decision on Cuba

De Blasio with Puerto Rico’s Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla in Old San Juan. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

San Juan, Dec 17 (Prensa Latina) Puerto Rican governor, Alejandro Garcia applauded today the decision of United States President Barack Obama, to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
In this regard, Garcia warned that Puerto Rico should be 'increasingly ready" due to the competition that will generate the change in the economic arena.

"I firstly congratulated President Obama as he again made us look well', he said.

The announcement of the re-establishment of the diplomatic relations in Washington by the US leader was in parallel with the one made in Havana by Cuban President Raul Castro, however it does not include the end of the economic blockade imposed on Cuba in 1962.

On the same line, the president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, Ruben Berrios, considered the announce marks the beginning of the end of arrogance and aggression against the island.

"This is the beginning of the end of a policy of arrogance and aggression against Cuba, which will have far reaching consequences in Latin America and the Caribbean", he stated.

"Now it is needed the rectification in relation to Puerto Rico', he added.

He pointed out that isolation did not work with Cuba just as colonialism does not work in Puerto Rico.

Obama has reworked his government's position because the U.S. position on Cuba -always contrary to the interests of Cuba - is also contrary to the interests of the United States.

Top News

Papal Appeal and Spy Exchange Said to Be Key to Deal

The negotiations to free Alan P. Gross, an American aid worker, and reopen U.S. ties with Cuba took a year and a half, in nine meetings held in Canada and the Vatican.

Cuba Deal Leaves Only North Korea as Cold War Vestige

Monday, December 15, 2014

UN Honoring Struggle Against Transatlantic Slave Trade

On Wednesday December 10 the UN hosted a pledging luncheon of member states and other invited guests. The purpose was to try to close the gap in funding to construct a memorial that was chosen in a competition to honor the victims of slavery, of the transatlantic slave trade. The memorial will be constructed on UN grounds.
According to Fanny Langella, the Deputy Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, “the total cost for the memorial will be $1.7 million. The funding gap at the time the luncheon was held, was about $500,000. The provisional figure for the amount raised at the luncheon was about $430,000, to be confirmed when the payments do come in.”
In his welcome to guests at the luncheon, Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary General, explained that not only would the memorial raise awareness of the historic injustices like the transatlantic slave trade, but it would also honor “the slaves, the abolitionists, the unsung heroes who fought to end this oppression. It will promote recognition of the contributions that slaves and their descendants have made to their societies. And it will remind us that people of African descent, and victims of slavery across the world, continue to struggle under this legacy. And there is still a lot of work to be done.”
The competition received 310 entries from 83 countries. UNESCO shortlisted sixteen entries. From the semi-final entries, there were seven finalists.
Of the seven finalists in the competition, Rodney Leon’s design, “The Ark of Return” was selected as the the winning design. Leon is of Haitian descent. Eliasson commended the winning design explaining that, “It reminds us that in order to heal and make progress, we must acknowledge and understand the past. We must draw the consequences, and the conclusions from this understanding.”
Eliasson then noted that in his office there is a photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. This photograph, Eliasson said, “was given to me by a person who was there in Selma, Alabama, at the march in 1965.” Eliasson described how Martin Luther King was in the front line of marchers, and behind him in the photograph were some flags, one of which was the flag of the United States and another flag, the flag of the UN. For Eliasson the presence of the UN flag in this demonstration symbolized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed 66 years ago at the UN, on the same date, December 10, as this luncheon event.
The winning design prominently features the words “Lest We Forget”.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

De Blasio wants to revamp the art collection at City Hall

Move over, George Washington!
Mayor de Blasio wants to revamp the art collection at City Hall to spice up the mostly vanilla collection of portraits of historically prominent white men.
“The Mayor and First Lady believe the art at City Hall should reflect the vibrant diversity of New York City, and discussions on how to update the building’s collection to celebrate that diversity are underway,” Mayoral spokeswoman Marti Adams said Friday.
City Hall has an extensive collection of portraits by renowned artists such as Charles Wesley Jarvis, John Trumbull and John Vanderlyn.
There are portraits of past presidents, former mayors, military heros and others who had a significant connection to New York City.
The announcement angered art historians who said the move was a calculated politically correct move that would destroy an irreplaceable collection.
“You do not dismantle a major historical collection or remove it from the walls because it doesn’t appeal to your particular sense of taste or your particular idea of the city now!” fumed Michele Bogart, a former vice president of the Public Design Commission, which oversees the City Hall portrait collection.
“It’s an absolute disgrace to take the efforts of staff of the previous administration and basically spit on them.”

It’s an absolute disgrace to take the efforts of staff of the previous administration and basically spit on them.
 - Michele Bogart, former Public Design Commission VP

Discussions are underway for what will be a long-term project and no decisions have been made about what art would be removed and what art brought in, city hall officials said. This isn’t the first time City Hall’s monotone portrait collection has stirred up drama.
Then-incoming City Councilman Charles Barron said in 2001 that he wanted to toss out the Thomas Jefferson portrait and replace it with a bust of Malcolm X, calling the third president “a pedophile” who had a sexual relationship with his young slave Sally Hemings.
Barron also said at the time that he would seek legislation to line City Hall’s walls with portraits of black and Hispanic leaders – and reportedly even gave the incoming speaker a hammer and nails so he could hang portraits of the “brothers and sisters.”
Mayor Bloomberg liked the portraits just the way they are – a non-profit organization he founded raised $1.7 million to restore and conserve the collection of paintings in 2008.
Several portraits have already been taken down and stored as part of recent renovations, city officials said

Cheney Calls for International Ban on Torture Reports

(photo: unknown)
(photo: unknown)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
12 December 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."
ormer Vice-President Dick Cheney on Tuesday called upon the nations of the world to “once and for all ban the despicable and heinous practice of publishing torture reports.”
“Like many Americans, I was shocked and disgusted by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s publication of a torture report today,” Cheney said in a prepared statement. “The transparency and honesty found in this report represent a gross violation of our nation’s values.”
“The publication of torture reports is a crime against all of us,” he added. “Not just those of us who have tortured in the past, but every one of us who might want to torture in the future.”
Saying that the Senate’s “horrifying publication” had inspired him to act, he vowed, “As long as I have air to breathe, I will do everything in my power to wipe out the scourge of torture reports from the face of the Earth.”
Cheney concluded his statement by calling for an international conference on the issue of torture reports. “I ask all the great nations of the world to stand up, expose the horrible practice of publishing torture reports, and say, ‘This is not who we are,’ ” Cheney said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Sly Wink at de Blasio Makes Cover of Vanity Fair


The January 2015 cover of Vanity Fair shows Bradley Cooper with billiard balls. The headline on the ball at far left seems, with a little imagination, to allude to the mayor.
Tucked into the corner of the current cover of Vanity Fair, which features a photograph of Bradley Cooper playing pool, is a billiard ball with a partially visible, Esperanto-like headline: “ill lasio ex ape!”
The phrase, cut off at the left edge of the page, reads as nonsense. But readers with a little imagination — particularly readers in New York — might be forgiven for mentally filling in the blanks. Add a few missing letters, et voilà:
Bill de Blasio Sex Tape!”


Juan Flores, a leading theorist of Latin American studies and a pioneer in the field of “Nuyorican” culture, the arts and language of Puerto Ricans in New York who toggle culturally between the city and the Caribbean island, died on Dec. 2 in Durham, N.C. He was 71.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mexico: Bodies Of Missing Students Abducted By Police Were Burned

Posted: Updated:

A bone fragment belonging missing student Alexander Mora is displayed on a television screen during a press conference by Mexico's Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam in Mexico City, Wednesday Dec. 7, 2014. Attorney General Murillo Karam confirmed Sunday that one of the college students missing since September, has been identified among charred remains found several weeks ago near a garbage dump. He said the student is Alexander Mora, based on material extracted from the bone fragment and anal
(Reuters) - Mexican authorities on Sunday said that mounting evidence and initial DNA tests confirmed that 43 trainee teachers who were abducted by corrupt police 10 weeks ago were incinerated at a garbage dump by drug gang members.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo told reporters that one of the students had been identified by experts in Austria from a bone fragment in a bag of ash and bits of burned tire found in a river where drug gang members said they tossed the students remains.
"This scientific proof confirms that the remains found at the scene coincide with the evidence of the investigation," Murillo said. "We will continue with the probe until all the guilty have been arrested."
President Enrique Pena Nieto is facing his deepest crisis over his government's handling of the probe. The case laid bare Mexico's deep problem of impunity and corruption and it has overshadowed Pena Nieto's efforts to focus on economic reforms.
One month ago, Murillo said that drug gang members had confessed to murdering the students and burning their bodies in a pyre of tires at an isolated dump.
But parents of the missing students have refused to accept the government's version and at a demonstration in Mexico City on Saturday night they said they would continue to demand more answers even after they had heard word of the DNA test results.
The apparent massacre has spurred widespread and sometimes violent protests throughout Mexico. Federal authorities waited 10 days after the students disappearance to intervene in the case, insisting it was a local matter.
Murillo said that 80 people have been detained in the probe, including the mayor of Iguala and his wife who are accused of ordering the police to get rid of the students from a radical left-wing college after they staged a demonstration in his town. Murillo promised more arrests, including 16 fugitive policemen.
During the search for the students in the state of Guerrero, dozens more bodies were discovered in mass graves. More than 100,000 people have been killed in Mexico in gang-related violence since 2007.
"There is a lot of rage, but it is not just this case," said political science student Jimena Rodriguez at the Saturday night march. "There are so many missing, and they do not have the least interest in really investigating."
(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle; Editing by Chris Reese)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In TV Interview, De Blasio Remains Careful Not to Take Sides in Garner Case

When Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown Wednesday, was asked on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday if the outcome of the Eric Garner case had been just, he said, “I make it a point not to talk about any element of judicial process per se.” Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times
When asked on ABC’s “This Week” if the grand jury made the right decision not to indict the officer in the death of Eric Garner, Mayor Bill de Blasio wouldn’t say.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Mayor Bill de Blasio: We’ve just come from a meeting of clergy, and elected officials, and community leaders here in Staten Island. And there’s a lot of pain and frustration in the room this evening.

And, at the same time, a lot of purposefulness. Everyone here, having spent so much of their lives trying to address some of the divisions that afflict us – in particular, our brothers and sisters who are members of the clergy, having devoted themselves to comforting and supporting people in all sorts of situations. Yet, tonight, there was a particular sense of challenge, and of pain.

I want to thank everyone who gathered together, in common purpose. I want to thank Bishop Brown for hosting us, for his leadership. I want to thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Tish James. I want to thank Borough President Jimmy Oddo. I want to offer a special thank you to Council Member Debi Rose, who has been in the center of so much of what’s happened in these last months, to help people understand what we have to do together to move forward, but also to listen, and absorb the pain and the frustration so many people have faced. I know it has not been easy, council member, but I want to thank you for your profound leadership. 

And to so many of the clergy that you worked with, who have been such important partners in reminding people we have to find a way forward. And we have to find a way forward together, by definition. 

It’s a very emotional day for our city. It’s a very painful day for so many New Yorkers. That is the core reality. So many people in this city are feeling pain right now. And we’re grieving, again, over the loss of Eric Garner, who was a father, a husband, a son, a good man – a man who should be with us, and isn’t. That pain, that simple fact, is felt again so sharply today. 

I spent some time with Ben Garner, Eric’s father, who is in unspeakable pain. And it’s a very hard thing to spend time trying to comfort someone you know is beyond the reach of comfort because of what he’s been through. I can only imagine. I couldn’t help but immediately think what it would mean to me to lose Dante. Life could never be the same thereafter, and I could feel how it will never be whole again – things will never be whole again for Mr. Garner. And even in the midst of his pain, one of the things he stopped and said so squarely was, there can’t be violence. He said Eric would not have wanted violence, violence won’t get us anywhere. He was so sharp and clear in his desire, despite his pain. I found it noble. I could only imagine what it took for him to summon that. No family should have to go through what the Garner family went through.

And the tragedy is personal to this family, but it’s become something personal to so many of us. It’s put in stark perspective the relationship between police and community. This issue has come to the fore again, and we have to address them with all our might. We can’t stop. We have to act, with the assumption that it’s all of our jobs to never have a tragedy again – that’s what we have to fight for. 

This is profoundly personal for me. I was at the White House the other day, and the President of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said, I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens. I said to him I did. Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years, about the dangers he may face. A good young man, a law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face – we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.

And that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first – that our police are here to protect us, and we honor that, and at the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome, because for so many of our young people, there’s a fear. And for so many of our families, there’s a fear. So I’ve had to worry, over the years, Chirlane’s had to worry – was Dante safe each night? There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night – is my child safe? And not just from some of the painful realities – crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods – but are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors? That’s the reality. And it conforms to something bigger that you’ve heard come out in the protests in Ferguson, and all over the country. 

This is now a national moment of grief, a national moment of pain, and searching for a solution, and you’ve heard in so many places, people of all backgrounds, utter the same basic phrase. They’ve said “Black Lives Matter.” And they said it because it had to be said. It’s a phrase that should never have to be said – it should be self-evident. But our history, sadly, requires us to say that Black Lives Matter. Because, as I said the other day, we’re not just dealing with a problem in 2014, we’re not dealing with years of racism leading up to it, or decades of racism – we are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day. That is how profound the crisis is.  And that is how fundamental the task at hand is, to turn from that history and to make a change that is profound and lasting.

In the here and now, so many New Yorkers will ask the question, what will happen next? They’ll ask, will there be a full airing of these facts? Will there be some investigation that means something to them? And I think the truth is important here.

One chapter has closed, with the decision of this grand jury. There are more chapters ahead. The police department will initiate now its own investigation, and make its own decisions about the administrative actions it can take. The federal government is clearly engaged and poised to act. Just before the meeting began with the leaders here on Staten Island, I received a phone call from the United States Attorney General Eric Holder, and from U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. They made clear that the investigation initiated by the U.S. Attorney would now move forward, that it would be done expeditiously, that it would be done with a clear sense of independence, and that it would be a thorough investigation. It was a palpable sense of resolve – the federal government will exercise its responsibilities here, and do a full and thorough investigation, and draw conclusions accordingly. 

We’ve experienced one challenge after another in these last weeks. The events of Ferguson may have most sharply framed this discussion nationally. For all of us here, what's happened in our own community is what we feel most deeply. It was hard for any one of us, as a human being, and particularly any of us who is a parent, to not be deeply pained by the death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland – a 12-year-old boy – something that's very, very hard to fathom. And all of these pains add up and demand of us action. It is powerful, even in the midst of the pain, that our President is acting. It is powerful that our President is focusing on changing our approach to policing, to focus on community policing, focus on the value of body cameras as a new tool for accountability and transparency. It's powerful that our Attorney General is focused.

These things will matter. These things will lead to change. Here in this city, change is happening. Even in this moment, people are feeling pain and frustration and confusion. Change is happening right now and I said in the meeting change is happening because the people willed it to happen. We're leaders, we all strive to serve and help our people, but the people willed this change to happen. The people believed the broken policy of stop and frisk had to end and it has ended. The people believed there were too many young people of color arrested and saddled with a record for the rest of their lives simply for the possession of a small amount of marijuana and that policy has been changed. The people demanded something different. It's my responsibility and responsibility to everyone standing here with me to achieve that on behalf of the people.

When I named Commissioner Bratton as our Police Commissioner, I knew him to be – I knew it at the time and I've seen it even more since – I knew him to be one of the greatest reformers and change agents in policing in the history of this country. I have seen that ability and those values play out each and every day.

I saw it today at the New York City Police Department Academy where not only did we talk about what body cameras will mean in terms of changing the relationship between the police and community, we talked about the re-training of the entire police force, something that has never been done in this city before. We talked about helping our officers understand the different ways to diffuse confrontations. We talked about bringing our officers closer to the community from the point of their training, from the first moments of their experience as law enforcement officers, emphasizing the partnership they needed with the community.

And I remind you, my faith in Commissioner Bratton is based on the actions he has taken over decades and it is also based on the clarity of his message to all of us. He gathered his top commanders a few weeks ago. It was well-reported. He said very publicly, the department will act aggressively to ensure any officer who is not meant to be in this work no longer is. He talked about those who don't live up to the values of the uniform, who have "brutal", who are “corrupt”, who are “racist”, who are “incompetent”. This was our police commissioner making clear his standard that people who sadly fit those descriptions would not be members of the NYPD.

These changes will matter. They will affect millions of people. They will take time, but that is not in any way an excuse or an unwillingness on our part to do anything but the fastest change we can. It's an honest leveling with our people that not every change can happen overnight, but they're happening resolutely and forcefully, more happening every day. Each change builds upon the next. There is a momentum for change that will be felt in every neighborhood in this city.

And, again, it doesn't come first and foremost, from City Hall, or from One Police Plaza, it comes from the people of this city who have demanded it. This change is about the values of our people, the will of our people, the goodness of our people. That's where change comes from. And everyone has an opportunity to play a role in that change by continuing to work for it. And that is across every community.

I have to emphasize, and we've seen this all over the country, but I know it's true here, and I have an experience from last year that I think is evidence. This is not just a demand coming from the African American community. It's not just a demand coming from the Latino community. It's coming from every community. It's coming from people from all faiths who want a city of fairness, who want violence to end, who want no family to go through the tragedy the Garners did.

So, people will express themselves now, as they should in a democracy. I ask everyone to listen to what Ben Garner said and what Eric Garner's son said as well – if you really want a dignified life of Eric Garner, you will do so through peaceful protest. You will work relentlessly for change. You will not sully his name with violence or vandalism. That doesn't bring us closer to a better community. The only thing that has ever worked is peaceful protest. Non-violent social activism is the only thing that has ever worked.

And the Garner family has made the abundantly clear. Michael Brown's family made that abundantly clear. People should listen to those we say we stand in solidarity with, fulfill their wishes and work for change the right way.

I'll just finish with a couple more points and then I want to say something in Spanish before I depart.

So many of us steeped in the teachings of Dr. King, there are many great leaders, but perhaps no one more definitional in the work of social change and the work of justice than Dr. King and he said something so fundamental that should remind us how we need to handle this moment. He said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This is a problem for all New Yorkers. This is a problem for all Americans. It has to be treated as such.

Anyone who says to you this is a problem only felt by people of color or only pertinent to young people and this is what's going on here. It's all our problem – and anyone who believes in the values of this country should feel called to action right now. Anyone who cares about justice, that American value of justice, should understand it is a moment that change must happen. Change is as good as the people that we represent.

 We have a lot of work to do together. I want to thank all of my colleagues who have been working so hard here in the neighborhoods of Staten Island and so many all over the city. Their work matters. Their work is being felt. It will continue to be felt as we continue the work of change and reform. I want to thank again Bishop Brown for bringing us together. I want to thank all of the leaders here today. I'll turn to Bishop Brown and Speaker Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate James and they'll continue talking to you.

I want to thank you, everyone, for this chance to talk about this moment that we're all facing together. And we will address our problems in this city together. Thank you.