Kudos to Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Councilman Robert Cornegy and others walking the streets of the city to keep them from succumbing to anarchist fury and criminality.
These community leaders understood that arson, looting and provoking the police won’t bring justice for George Floyd or anyone else. “I firmly believe if we listen to what people are saying, and begin to address it, that is the best thing that we can do,” Williams told NY1.
During a march on Sunday, the public advocate worked with police commanders to lessen the tension between protesters and a large police presence. De-escalation and safe passage for people exercising peaceful protest keep things from boiling over.
Williams told The Post that demonstrators “policed” their own ranks: “The crowd stopped agitators from throwing water bottles at police,” for example
Cornegy says that when he and members of his Bed-Stuy community learned of a march organized by outsiders kicking off at Boys and Girls HS, they mobilized to ensure that their reform agenda wasn’t hijacked by bad actors looking for a fight.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea says that 1 out 7 people arrested over the weekend were out-of-towners. The department’s Intelligence Division has uncovered commuications between groups bent on using legitimate protests to wreak havoc on city streets.
For Cornegy, it remains important to ensure that legitimate grievances don’t get sidetracked. “Arson and commandeering police precincts are uncharacteristic of my community,” says the councilman. “That kind of behavior makes no sense.”
The presence of local electeds and community leaders on the front lines of peaceful demonstrations were clear signs that the protesters were being heard and that their demands would get a fair hearing.
The City Council is majority African-American, Latino and Asian, as are the city’s legislative and congressional delegations. The Assembly speaker is a black man from The Bronx. Policing and criminal-justice reform have been at the top of all these officials’ agenda for several years.
So those seeking violent confrontation with police, destroying private property and looting businesses are the ones out of step with reality in New York City. The memory of George Floyd, Eric Garner and others isn’t served by wanton destruction.
Blessed be the peacemakers.
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