Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

De Blasio is Right

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For the first time since tempers have risen over the slaying of Eric Garner and Akai Gurley and, now, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, mayor de Blasio may have shown a bit of leadership by appealing to protesters to lay off for the time being.

The protesters have been in the streets for months with increasing fervor, openly calling into question the integrity of the police over their brutality and lack of accountability. Are they right? Duh. Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association has seditiously called for dereliction of duty and a backdoor martial law. Is he wrong? Duh.

But what’s going on here is a spiral of escalation. De Blasio was absolutely correct when he said that this was a tale of two cities, profoundly divided, and tempers are only rising. He ran on a campaign that justly and presciently pointed out that we’ve been sitting on a tinderbox for a while; one that needed only a match to be thrown for a general conflagration.

Well, a match has been thrown.

As such, I view that it’s not a political calculation about his re-election or concern about his image or even about what’s right or what’s wrong. It’s about making sure there aren’t riots in the streets by this time next week. By requesting a moratorium on street protests, de Blasio has thrown a wet blanket on the whole proceedings. As such, whether some agree it’s the best decision in the world, or plays too much into the hands of supporters of the NYPD is beside the point: It’s one that may yet be sorely needed.

Parallels can be made to the Hard Hat Riot in 1970, where two hundred AFL-CIO union toughs, calling for then-mayor John Lindsay’s impeachment and accusing him of being too weak-willed and leftist, assaulted a thousand college students who were then protesting the recent Kent State shootings. They then stormed City Hall and started a riot. You don’t need to be a historian to see the ideological divide between the white blue-collar laborers and the liberal college kids they beat down, just as you don’t need to have a Masters in Public Administration to see why minority communities and the communities from which we draw most of our police cadets don’t see eye to eye. It should be plain to see why such a heady time in our history should not be repeated.

It’s not about whether Order is coming before Justice, but the real and true concern over the destruction that can be caused if we don’t all calm down. De Blasio has not ordered protesters to stop – that would abridge their freedom to assemble – but he has rightly observed that we don’t need more matches thrown. Now is indeed the time to step back, because nothing good can come out of the chaos we find ourselves at the precipice of.

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