AFRICANGLOBE – Joe McCarthy was the infamous United States Senator who launched a witch hunt, known as the Red Scare of the 1950s, which falsely accused so many of being communists intending to destroy the country. Joe McCarthy finally got his comeuppance at a Congressional hearing when Atty. Joseph Nye Welch very pointedly asked Senator McCarthy, “Have you no shame?”
Michael Bloomberg is the New York mayor who insisted for years and years that the widespread profiling, questioning, searching and harassing of virtually any young Black male in sight by his police was perfectly justified and legal. On Monday U. S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in effect said that it was not and, in effect, “Mayor Bloomberg, have you no shame?”
He appeared not to. He denounced the judge, the courts and the hue and cry from the majority of the citizenry. Most of the citizens of New York are Black and Brown, and they vehemently oppose the stop and frisk policy, (as do many others of conscience). They are not minorities as the mayor, the police commissioner, and the press incorrectly label them. Bloomberg has presided over a reign of terror over the majority of the citizens of the City of New York. According to Judge Scheindlin.
“The City’s highest officials have turned a blind eye to the evidence that officers are conducting stops in a racially discriminatory manner. . . . they have willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy of singling out ‘the right people’ is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution. . . No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life.”
This is reminiscent of how, 50 years ago, Martin Luther King described the lives of African Americans in Alabama, “(Y)ou are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of ‘nobodiness.’”
A few weeks ago, when asked by reporters why Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be stopped and frisked than Whites, Mayor Bloomberg bristled saying, “I think we disproportionately stop Whites too much and minorities too little.” However, as the judge pointed out in her ruling on Monday, during these stop and frisks, “Whites are more likely to be found with weapons or contraband.” And even though they are less likely to be found with drugs or guns, Blacks and Latinos when stopped by the police “were more likely to be subjected to the use of force than Whites.”
Given a chance to redeem himself, the mayor has, so far, chosen instead to dig in his heels on the side of intransigence, bigotry and intolerance. He has until November to try to salvage his legacy and get on the right side of history.
By: Dr. Arthur Lewin
Dr. Lewin was born in Harlem, New York. His parents hail from Jamaica and Cuba. His research has included topics in Jamaican political history, charismatic leadership in African America, Africa and the Caribbean and the class structure in Black America. He is the author of the popular book Africa is Not a Country its a Continent!