Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik ripped Bill de Blasio on Thursday, advising the New York City mayor to "stay away from calling the NYPD and its members racist."
"He made a comment that there has been racism in this country for centuries. I don't know what he's talking about. I really take offense if that means if he's specifically focused on the men and women in the NYPD because I know that's not true," Kerik said Thursday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"[They] every day go out and put their lives on the line … They're sent to a call of violence, attempted murder, murder in progress, robbery in progress, whatever it is, and they don't … ask, is the victim black or white because we're not going if they're black.
"They do one of the best jobs in this country and we've seen that with an 80 percent drop in violent crime in the African-American communities in New York City … I'm not exactly sure what he's talking about, but I would stay away from calling the NYPD and its members racist."
De Blasio, reacting Wednesday to a grand jury's clearing of a police officer who killed Eric Garner with an unauthorized chokehold in the New York City borough of Staten Island — a death the medical examiner ruled a homicide — said he fears for the safety of his bi-racial son, Dante, in interactions with police, just like parents of other black children.
"A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we've had to literally train him — as families have all over this city for decades — in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him," de Blasio said.
The mayor, in an interview Thursday morning on Hot97 radio, spoke of centuries of racism in explaining how the Garner ended in tragedy.
"It’s a conversation that’s really much less about any one case. It’s something much bigger. . . . It’s kind of tragic that we are not surprised when one of these tragedies occurs, you know," he said.
"And by the way, even beyond the question of racism in America — and I’ve said very very clearly in these last days, let’s be clear about, this is not based on decades of racism, this is based on centuries of racism — we’ve become somehow used to the notion that these tragedies will occur."
Kerik, who also served as interim minister of Interior of Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority, said he wasn't surprised Officer Peter Pantaleo was not charged.
"I wasn't surprised because I have a better understanding of the job than most people, especially those not in law enforcement, that would look at that video [of the confrontation] and not understand what was going on," Kerik said.
"There were 23 people [on the grand jury] that … looked at testimony, they heard from medical experts, they talked to other witnesses perhaps other than the officers, and they watched that tape.
"Those 23 people are the people that know what really, really happened and they made a decision not to indict. Everyone outside that room, all the pundits and all the personal, professional critics, they don't know the evidence. They don't know what those grand jurors saw."
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