When I read that New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had met last week with zoot-suited cleric Rev. Al “I Believe Tawana” Sharpton over the police slaying of Sean Bell at 4 a.m. outside a strip club under investigation for drug trafficking and underage prostitution, my first thought was: The Rudy Giuliani era is defnitely over. Well, at least Bloomberg declined to attend Bell’s funeral, and he denounced the picket signs urging New Yorkers to “kill” some cops by way of reprisal.
Bell, by the way, was no Amadou Diallo, a hard-working Haitian immigrant with no criminal record tragically slain by police in 1999 while reaching for his wallet. The 23-year-old Bell had a record of petty crimes and no known gainful employment, and was also living with the mother of his two children (the strip club was supposedly the venue of Bell’s bachelor party, as he was apparently slated to marry said baby momma — although I have my doubts).
Heather Mac Donald has this fine analysis of the Bell shooting for City Journal:
“The allegation that last weekend’s shooting was racially motivated is preposterous. A group of undercover officers working in a gun- and drug-plagued strip joint in Queens had good reason to believe that a party leaving the club was armed and about to shoot an adversary. When one of the undercovers identified himself as an officer, the car holding the party twice tried to run him down. The officer started firing while yelling to the car’s occupants: ‘Let me see your hands.’ His colleagues, believing they were under attack, fired as well, eventually shooting off 50 rounds and killing the driver, Sean Bell. No gun was found in the car, but witnesses and video footage confirm that a fourth man in the party fled the scene once the altercation began. Bell and the other men with him all had been arrested for illegal possession of guns in the past; one of Bell’s companions that night, Joseph Guzman, had spent considerable time in prison, including for an armed robbery in which he shot at his victim.
“Nothing in these facts suggests that racial animus lay behind the incident. (Though this detail should be irrelevant, the undercover team was racially mixed, and the officer who fired the first shot was black.) But even more preposterous than the assertion of such animus is the claim by New York’s self-appointed minority advocates that the well-being of the minority community is what motivates them….
“Since 1993, 11,353 people have been murdered in New York City. The large majority of victims and perpetrators have been black. Not a single one of those black-on-black killings has prompted protest or demonstrations from the city’s black advocates. Sharpton…et al. are happy to let thousands of black victims get mowed down by thugs without so much as a whispered call for ‘peace’ or ‘justice;’ it’s only when a police officer, trying to protect the public, makes a good faith mistake in a moment of intense pressure that they rise as vindicators of black life. (As for caring about slain police officers, forget about it. Sixteen cops — including several black policemen — have been killed since 1999, not one of whom elicited a public demonstration of condolence from the race hustlers.)
“If the city’s black advocates paid even a tiny fraction of the attention they pay to shootings by criminals as they pay to shootings by police, they could change the face of the city.”
Heather also makes mincemeat out of Sharpton pal Jesse Jackson’s (naturally Jackson has jumped into this fray as well) that New York police unfairly focus their law-enforcement efforts on blacks:
“The police have a disproportionate number of interactions with blacks because blacks are committing a disproportionate number of crimes. That fact comes from the testimony of the victims of those crimes, themselves largely black, not from the police. In New York City, blacks committed 62 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults from 1998 to 2000, according to victim and witness identification, even though they make up only 25 percent of the city’s population. Whites committed 8 percent of those crimes over that period, though they are 28 percent of New York residents. These proportions have been stable for years and remain so today. It’s not the ‘criminal-justice system’ that has broken down for young black males; it’s families and other sources of cultural support. Changing the subject and blaming the police just perpetuates the problem.”
Now, maybe the police did overreact by firing 50 rounds in Bell’s direction, and maybe there was police misconduct during those early-morning hours. But racial pot-stirring by Sharpton, Jackson, and the usual demagogues, along with plenty of breast-beating by the liberal media, aren’t going to clear up matters.