Beer with Bloomberg
September 8th, 2011
Maybe Mayor Michael Bloomberg should not try folksy. His offer to sit down over a brew or two with the City Council member and political aide detained by police on Monday seems to have generated as much enthusiasm as a flat, warm mug of Keystone — or as President Barack Obama’s often ridiculed beer summit with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates and a Cambridge, Mass., police officer
On Wednesday, Bloomberg described the police stopping and handcuffing of the councilmember, Juamaane Williams, and Kirsten John Foy, an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, as probably “just a misunderstanding.” And he told reporters, “Hopefully every once in a while if there’s a misunderstanding, you have a beer together and work it out.”
Williams apparently does not drink beer. But the council member and Foy have more substantive problems with the mayor’s invite. While saying they appreciated the gesture, “this is bigger than the three of us over a beer,” the two men said in a statement. Instead they suggested a meeting with Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly “where young African American and Latino New Yorkers can talk openly and directly about their experiences with stop and frisk and other police interactions.”
Reactions from other City Council members after the jump.
Since the incident following the West Indian Day Parade, Williams and Foy, both of whom are black, as well as a number of other elected officials have said the incident reflected discriminatory police policies toward black and Latino young men, notably frequent stop and frisks.
Before the City Council meeting today, Williams said Bloomberg had not responded to his offer. At the meeting, a number of Williams’ colleagues stood up to declare support for him and Foy and to question police procedures. Some even took issue with the idea of a beer.
“I’m particularly offended by the mayor’s words that this could be settled over a beer,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens. “This is not something to have a beer over. We need a policy change in the police department.”
Calling the police conduct “disgusting,” Councilmember Lew Fidler (who it should be noted is white as well as older and heavier than either Williams or Foy) said, “If Jumaane Williams had the misfortune of looking like me … he would not have ended up on the ground being handcuffed.” He added that the mayor and Kelly needed to stick to their promise to investigate the incident and said the officers involved should face disciplinary measures.By Gail Robinson on September 8, 2011, 4:52 pm
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