After the recent federal court decision that (finally) reiterated what thousands of New Yorkers have been saying for years, that Stop and Frisk violates the constitution and is quite literally an institutionalized form of racial profiling, I could only appreciate the announcement briefly before my face and my palm had to come together yet again. The source of my frustration and embarrassment was once again my councilman, Eric Ulrich.
Now let me just say that I rarely give two thoughts to electoral politics or politicians but I can't help but feel somewhat responsible when my local bowtiewearing representative is whining and banging his fist on desks (and of course, in front of a camera) in an effort to convince us that mild reforms of racialized policing means that New York will instantly transform into New Jack City. Not that any of this is backed up by any forms of objective or convincing evidence.
No, for those like my councilman, and our billionaire Mayor, following the constitution can only lead to apocalyptic consequences. Perhaps waves of unruly black and latino youth are licking their chops for the moment that the Community Safety Act goes into effect next year, too. Of course that means we'll all come crawling back to the councilman, Bloomberg and Ray Kelly begging for them to save us. Stop and Frisk? Why stop there? Let's just go the gestapo route and have perfect safety!
Well, I guess it's too late. Those crazy, radical ideologues (a federal judge, the majority of the City council and the majority of New Yorkers who declined to entertain the false choice of security vs. freedom) have won a major victory and now it's time to turn up the fear mongering and spin machines on full power.
It was, for example, predictable that supporters of Stop and Frisk would frame the City Council's vote (and override of the Mayor's veto) on the Community Safety Act as "election year politicking." Well, yea. That's kind of how our form of democracy works, guys. The majority of the City council was responsive to the majority of New Yorker's concerns about Stop and Frisk. I guess they don't want to be punished at the ballot box for being on the wrong side of history.
But the fun thing about history is that you can also spin it, especially to those that aren't at its mercy. This is why the councilman perhaps feels like he has the ability to be such a vocal and visible Stop and Frisk cheerleader: his staff probably correctly advises him that he has nothing to lose (and everything to gain) in his district. His constituents aren't having their rights violated nearly as much as in other areas of the city. And of course it doesn't hurt when the billionaire Mayor starts stopping by his fundraisers right before the Council vote and right before the councilman began to turn up volume on his doomsday predictions. It really is good "election year politicking" for my councilman since he can't run on a platform of say, being seen in the disaster recovery efforts post-Sandy. But hey, he'll keep us safe from the scary black man if not the natural disasters that destroy our homes, I guess.
The great irony of Eric Ulrich is that for such a young, baby-faced politician, his position on Stop and Frisk is something that we will see go the way of the dinosaur. New Yorkers have spoken. The courts have spoken. All that we have left is a defeated billionaire Mayor limping out of office (though exponentially richer) and a whiny councilman kicking and screaming as the world passes him by.