Councilman Jumaane Williams Pressures NYPD, Mayor to Address Police Accountability

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Sam Levin
City Councilman Jumaane Williams at a recent rally.
Last week, cops chased Ramarley Graham, 18, to the bathroom of his apartment where they shot and killed him. His grandmother was at home at the time and witnessed the shooting.

The Bronx teen -- who may have been trying to flush marijuana down the toilet -- was unarmed.

Today, the NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are getting backlash from some pols who are calling on the higher-ups to address larger concerns of policing culture and police accountability.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams -- who recently called on NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne to step down amid the controversy surrounding the anti-Islam film called The Third Jihad surfaced -- criticized the mayor today for not acknowledging the push from electeds and others for better police accountability.

"I recognize that police officers perform a highly difficult job and must make split-second decisions, but far too many of those decisions are resulting in a person of more color being shot and the officer saying, 'I thought he had a gun,'" Williams said in a statement earlier today. "It has reached the point that any time you hear that someone unarmed has been shot by the NYPD, you can bet the bank they are black or brown. There is no clearer evidence of a policing culture crisis than this."

When Runnin' Scared spoke to Williams at Zuccotti Park last month -- on the day the barricades went down, also a day before Bloomberg's State of the City speech -- he said he was disappointed that the mayor continues to ignore the topic.

"The mayor needs to mention something about police accountability. If he doesn't do that, I think what he's saying is that he doesn't care about black, Latinos, poor people in this city. He's basically saying, 'I don't care about half the people in this city.' It needs to be addressed," Williams told us at the time.

(When Runnin' Scared asked Bloomberg about this form of stop-and-frisk at a press conference last month, the mayor said he didn't know about that specific issue).

Today, Williams is applying pressure again -- acknowledging in his statement, that he's said the same thing before. "At the risk of repeating myself, what more do Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner [Ray] Kelly need to see?" he said.

Bloomberg has in fact been a loud voice against stricter gun control laws, co-chairing Mayors Against Illegal Guns and speaking out yesterday with this video and an appearance on Meet the Press.

In that interview, he said, it's a no-brainer. "Just get Congress to come with me to the hospital when I've got to tell somebody that their son or daughter or spouse or parent is not going to come home ever again," adding, as Williams noted in his statement today, "I don't know who has to get killed for people to...start saying, "Wait a second, this is enough."'

Williams called this line hypocritical, firing back today: "Mr. Mayor, we are waiting for you to make that same recognition in your own city." The councilman specifically called on Bloomberg and Kelly -- who is having a bit of a rough time -- to have a meeting with city leaders and the 27 members of the Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus to discuss police accountability.

"I hope, perhaps in vain, that this tragedy helps them recognize the connection between these incidents and our concerns," Williams said.

The NYPD is also facing some pressure from Manhattan Borough President and mayoral hopeful Scott Stringer when it comes to stop-and-frisk policies. Last week, at his State of the Borough speech, Stringer spent a few minutes on the topic, saying, "I am troubled by a critical police strategy. Last year, the NYPD stopped, questioned, and frisked nearly 700,000 New Yorkers -- most of them for no reason at all...85 percent of those stops are black or Latino. The conclusion is inescapable. Stop and frisk as currently practiced is riddled with racial profiling and that is making us all less safe."

[SamTLevin / @SamTLevin]

Go to Runnin' Scared for all our latest news coverage.


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