Ray Kelly's 'Extraordinary Job'

Obama wants to talk about racial profiling in Florida, but not in New York City.

Three days before President Obama seized upon George Zimmerman's acquittal as an opportunity to talk about racial profiling, he offered effusive praise for New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, long a target of criticism for law enforcement practices that discriminate based on skin color and ethnicity. The juxtaposition of these comments suggests Obama would rather attack an easy target than confront issues with much clearer implications for equality under the law.

While Zimmerman surely deserves criticism for the rash actions that led to his deadly fight with Trayvon Martin, the evidence that he considered the teenager suspicious because of his complexion is meager. The subject of race was not mentioned during the trial, and a juror interviewed by CNN's Anderson Cooper last week said it did not come up during deliberations either. She was persuaded that Zimmerman "would have reacted the exact same way" if Martin had been white, Hispanic, or Asian, because "he profiled anybody who came in and acted strange."

Yet Obama implicitly portrayed Zimmerman as racist. "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago," he said on Friday, recalling his own encounters with fearful motorists, suspicious department store clerks, and nervous, handbag-clutching ladies in elevators who viewed him as a potential criminal based on nothing more than his African ancestry. Such experiences, he explained, "inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida."

Perhaps so, but that does not mean the interpretation is accurate. By contrast, there is no mistaking the racially disproportionate impact of the "stop and frisk" tactics championed by Kelly, whom Obama talked up in a Univision interview on Tuesday as a possible secretary of homeland security, calling him "one of the best there is" and "very well qualified for the job."

In contrast with Zimmerman, who has never been credibly accused of shooting Martin because of his race, Kelly is named in a federal lawsuit that charges the NYPD with routinely violating the Fourth and 14th Amendments through a program of street stops that target blacks or Hispanics 87 percent of the time. The number of such stops septupled during Kelly's first nine years as Mayor Michael Bloomberg's police commissioner, from fewer than 100,000 in 2002 to almost 700,000 in 2011; last year there were 533,000.

Although the stops, most of which involve pat-downs, are supposedly based on "reasonable suspicion" of criminal activity, nine times out of 10 they do not result in an arrest or even a summons. They almost never discover guns, although that is the official goal of the pat-downs.

More often the searches find small amounts of marijuana, possession of which is ordinarily a citable offense. But in a tricky maneuver Kelly concedes is illegal, cops will often claim marijuana pulled out of pockets or bags during a stop was possessed "in public view," a misdemeanor that justifies an arrest. Not surprisingly, pot busts have skyrocketed along with street stops, and 87 percent of the arrestees are black or Hispanic, even though surveys indicate whites are at least as likely to smoke marijuana.

As Obama noted on Friday, "there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws—everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws." In New York City under Ray Kelly, that history is still being made.

While Kelly's defenders argue that the racially skewed impact of "stop and frisk" is a side effect of sending cops where the crime is, the NYPD's program of spying on innocent Muslims in the name of fighting terrorism explicitly discriminated based on religion and national origin. As the Associated Press revealed in 2011, the NYPD "put American citizens under surveillance and scrutinized where they ate, prayed and worked, not because of charges of wrongdoing but because of their ethnicity."

Last week Obama declared that "Ray Kelly has obviously done an extraordinary job in New York." That's true enough, but not necessarily in a good way. 

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  • Live Free or Diet||

    They almost never discover guns, although that is the official goal of the pat-downs.

    Maybe the suit should include not just the 14th and 4th Amendments, but also the 2nd?

  • ||

    Because the fear of the patdowns deters the thugs from carrying their guns. See, tiger-repelling rocks work!

  • Generic Stranger||

    It's not racist when we do it! /progtard

  • Ted S.||

    They almost never discover guns, although that is the official goal of the pat-downs.

    What's publicly stated isn't necessarily what the real goal is.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Getting people used to being groped?

  • Almanian!||

    See also: "TSA"

  • Ted S.||

    Now, if Ray Kelly profiled people who back-date Brickbats, I might be OK with that.

  • Floridian||

    "While Zimmerman surely deserves criticism for the rash actions that led to his deadly fight with Trayvon Martin"

    Like getting punched in the face. Rash, so so rash.

  • WTF||

    Dude, he observed a guy with a hoodie in his neighborhood who didn't belong there, where there had been a series of brglaries, and he called the cops and tried to keep track of him.

    That's just gotta be the rashest thing thing since the Rash monster came to rash town.

  • Floridian||

    I know that beating hurt like eight bitches on a bitch boat.

  • some guy||

    Except Martin did belong in the neighborhood. He was returning to the house of a family friend.

    And so what if he was wearing a hoodie? It was raining.

    We'll never know how aggressively Zimmerman acted towards Martin or how far he followed him. We'll never know if Zimmerman followed Martin after the dispatcher told him he didn't need to do that. The main fault lies with Martin, but Zimmerman clearly made some mistakes that contributed a little bit to the tragedy.

  • Rich||

    Oh, if only God had not made it rain that night!

  • some guy||

    Or if only Zimmerman had stayed in his vehicle. Or if only Martin had stayed at inside. Or if only Martin had not gone back outside. Or if only Martin had not slugged Zimmerman. This tragedy had a long string of contributing factors, as most tragedies do.

  • SugarFree||

    Zimmerman said before the trail there's wasn't a thing about that night he would have done differently knowing how it ended. I wonder if he still thinks that after the trial?

  • Rich||

    "Everywhere, in all the realms of existence, the noble disciple sees only mental and corporeal phenomena kept going through the concatenation of causes and effects."

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    SADHU! SADHU!

  • Rich||

    *** blushes ***

    You know, HM, I almost dropped your name in that comment.

  • sarcasmic||

    According to my local paper, it was the gun's fault. The knowledge that he had a gun emboldened Zimmerman, while not knowing that he had a gun emboldened Martin. If Zimmerman hadn't had a gun then he wouldn't have followed Martin, and if Martin had known that Zimmerman had a gun then he wouldn't have attacked him. So it's all because of the gun.

  • some guy||

    Your local paper is written by idiots. But so it my local paper... and everyone else's local paper.

  • KPres||

    Actually, it's a great argument against gun control...

    "...if Martin had known that Zimmerman had a gun then he wouldn't have attacked him..."

    That was the only thing they needed to say.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Yes, but we can also say it could have motivated Martin to get a gun himself - which apparently he was considering.

  • RBS||

    I don't think mine even has an editor anymore.

  • ||

    It's hard to tell sometimes.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "We'll never know how aggressively Zimmerman acted towards Martin or how far he followed him"

    If so, how can Jacob Sullum *know* that Zimmerman is to blame? Why not say, "while we don't know for certain whether Zimmerman did anything wrong" etc.

  • some guy||

    I think it's clear Zimmerman profiled Martin based on how he looked (not necessarily his race) and also took actions that he should have expected to lead to a confrontation (not necessarily violent). Personally I think those actions were wrong, though not illegal. And these actions certainly contributed to Martin's death. Sullum didn't say Zimmerman was to "blame", only that his rash actions contributed to the tragedy and he deserves to be criticized for them.

    If someone in my neighborhood started following me because I was out at night wearing a hoodie I would criticize him for doing so.

  • MJGreen||

    I would criticize him as well, until he explained that there have been burglaries recently and he's part of the neighborhood watch to deter such crime. In that case, I'd say I get it, chuckle at the misunderstanding and move on peacefully.

  • Ann N||

    how is it wrong to carry a gun into an intentional confrontation?

    if we are not within our legal rights to confront someone then we have already lost.

    confronting someone is not a crime.

    if there exists behavior which is legal without a gun but not with, then the right to be arms is not a right after all its just a priviledge.

    taking your own selfdefense into your own hands cannot put more duty or responsibility upon you. its unalienable and innate.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but Martin was only exercising his right to self defense when he attacked Zimmerman! If Zimmerman had stayed in his car like he'd been ordered, then none of this would have happened? Why do you hate black people?

  • Almanian!||

    Zimmerman hunted Martin like an animal, tracking him for hours before finally springing his trap.

    We all know the results - RACISM AND DEATH.

    Why is it so hard for everyone to understand this? #troof

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It was an insidious plot on Zimmerman's part. He went out looking for a black person to kill. TO cover his tracks, he called the police so he'd be mistaken for a concerned anti-crime citizen. Before targeting Trayvon, he walked past a mob of white skinheads who were looting a neighbor's house. He ignored the skinheads because they were all good Aryans, and shouldn't be hassled. Then Z saw Martin with his Skittles, and was angry that a black kid would presume to eat a candy which ought to be reserved for whites.

    Z got out of his car, whipped out his gun, and chased Martin, who pleaded for his life. Ignoring the pleas, Z told Martin to stand in such a way as to look like he was in an aggressive posture. He shot Martin dead, then bashed up his own head as part of his cover story.

    The people need to know the truth!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Nonsense. I have a hard time believing that; Zimmerman isn't a cop yet.

  • creech||

    The fable that Mumia's supporters tell is just as preposterous.

  • SQRLSY One||

    The OTHER part of the truth (Martin threw away the sword and the pistol by his side, before he died, and the cops never found it, bumbling fools that they were), but here is the REAL truth:
    Martin went a fartin’,
    And he did ride,
    With a sword and a pistol
    By his side,
    Lookin’ for a “creepy ass cracker”
    To help him eat his skittles,
    So when he couldn’t find his spittoon,
    He spit instead in his shittooon,
    And shit instead in his spittoon,
    While the cow jumped over the moon,
    And the dish snorted coke with a spoon,
    And we’ll all know the truth real soon!

  • Floridian||

    I for one blame that witness for not breaking up the fight. Cue the FBI to investigate that cracka who watched a messican and black dude beat each other without lifting finger to stop it. I'm sure we can find something to prove he violated both Martin's and Zimmerman's civil rights by not preventing the shooting.

  • Loki||

    ...that cracka who watched a messican and black dude beat each other

    Maybe he just thought he was at an impromptu amateur boxing match?

  • ||

    why was this story illustrated with a picture of Popeye?

  • WTF||

    Because Obama will gladly pay you on Tuesday for the money he borrows today.

  • Almanian!||

    Because Obama will gladly never pay you on Tuesday back for the money he borrows today.

    Messier, but FIXED

  • some guy||

    In my mind, Congress and the Fed are doing the borrowing. Obama is just an enabler and figurehead. Even on his own "signature" legislation he took a back seat and just let Democrats in Congress construct the bill. Which is as it should be. Obama's problems have been with all the executive actions he's taken. His problem is how he spends the money that Congress steals.

  • wareagle||

    there is no "juxtaposition" here, there is just Obama once more in the act of being himself, knowing that no one is going to call him on it.

  • Rich||

    Obama declared that "Ray Kelly has obviously done an extraordinary job in New York."

    Words cannot express the quality of his work, and I cannot recommend him too highly.

  • ||

    Wah, don't trash New Yorkers you flyover state mouth-breathing trash!

  • dinkster||

    I hope it sinks.

  • ||

    Shitweasel has a problem with the principle behind 'stand your ground laws'. He has no problem with New Yorkers not standing their ground against the cops. It is all about people being submissive.

    Once you understand that it is easy to see that there is no contradiction here. He is being very consistent.

  • some guy||

    He really is a post-racial president. He wants to oppress everyone equally.

  • RBS||

    He wants to oppress everyone equally.

    When progressives talk about equality, that's exactly what the mean. Except for them, of course.

  • Hash Brown||

    The juxtaposition of these comments suggests Obama would rather attack an easy target than confront issues with much clearer implications for equality under the law.

    More and more, these things suggest to me that Obama's a puppet.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Would you rather have a woman clutching her purse on the subway, or get grabbed and felt up by a New York cop? I suppose you should prefer the latter, because the New Professionalism.

  • Alice Bowie||

    As a BIG LIBERAL, I'm offended by Obama's Silence to the Stop-and-Frisk program in NYC.

    However, as a former resident of Washington Heights, I must say I'm really glad that people are afraid of walking around with guns. Perhaps in Idaho I would not be afraid of a local packing or carrying hunting weapons. But in the South Bronx, Harlem, Inwood, and Washington Heights, Stop-and-frisk did discourage the "non-hunter" types that carry guns from carrying guns.

    However, I do feel that the criminal records that young black/latino youths obtained while a stop-and-frisk occurred should be wiped clean.

  • Loki||

    Obama wants to talk about racial profiling in Florida, but not in New York City.

    It's simple really: if the government does something (theft, fraud, coercion, racial profiling, etc.) it's good. If a private citizen does those same things, it's bad. And if a KKKORPORASHUN does it then it's evil incarnate. If you understand that then everything makes sense.

  • MikeJL||

    You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie...er..I mean Ray!

  • MikeJL||

    and why the hell won't Reason let me post strike-through??

  • Ann N||

    How is it rash to follow a suspicious person? It does include risk but its entire focus is to further the cause of justice.

    Calling it rash is tantamount to a "precog" telling him to not get out of the car.

    It's a reasonable choice while in the 'pursuit of happiness'.

    I have yet to see it rationally explained that getting out of the car has any blame whatsoever. You could make the exact same argument about him getting out of bed that morning. He simply should never have done it. His morally innocuous decision must bear the culpability of murder!

    I can understand a crushing game of 'whatif' whenever something truly tragic occurs, the problem is when you put the weight of a legal system behind that and society morally compels one side to have prevented the tragedy.

    If the gunhaters can make gun possession a legally different position, with legally different responsibilities/culpability, then they have already won the issue. This is why they drive so hard on the innocent skittles angle: to downplay the violence of fists and concrete.

    All men should be treated equally and should not be discriminated for exercising their rights. Holding a man with a gun to a higher standard isn't really having a 2nd amendment. Its creating unequal grounds where people are put into castes based on which rights they want to exercise.

  • melpee||

    Stopping and frisking those thugs who commit 90% of the muggings and break-ins will end when the savages learn to behave.

  • coma44||

    Obama wants to talk about racial profiling in Florida, but not in New York City.

    That is because Obama's little butt buddy Bloomburg is "running" that show.

    Obama and Bloomburg eat out of the same dish.

  • JD the elder||

    But in a tricky maneuver Kelly concedes is illegal, cops will often claim marijuana pulled out of pockets or bags during a stop was possessed "in public view," a misdemeanor that justifies an arrest.

    In all fairness, the NYPD has been ordered, internally, to stop the bogus practice of manufacturing "public display" charges by telling a detainee, "If you have anything, you might want to show it to me," and then calling it "public display" when the poor sap complies.

    That said, I still don't trust the "public display" charges as far as I can kick them. Part of the problem is that judges and juries seem to take a cop's word as some kind of evidence, when in fact it's nothing of the sort. "So you're charging him with openly displaying the marijuana...what evidence do you have for this? Oh, you saw it, OK. Did anyone else see it? No? Then get the fuck out of my courtroom with your no-evidence charges, idiot," is how I'd love to see things go...

  • Anders||

    Kelly should adopt the Hillary Clinton / Col. Jessup explanation and just say, "Yes I believe in stop and molest without PC. Look at this city. It's full of animals - murderers, drug dealers, sex criminals, deviants, and minorities: the kind of people who vote for Bloomberg 3 times in a row. You're God Damned right I ordered Stop and Molest."

    Then throw in some Hillary: "At this point, what difference does it make?"

    Boom. Instant confirmation with 103 votes from the Senate.

  • John C. Randolph||

    "They almost never discover guns, although that is the official goal of the pat-downs."

    So, their goal is to violate the second amendment?

    -jcr

  • Captain Kirk||

    Mr. Sullum writes that "the NYPD with routinely violating the Fourth and 14th Amendments through a program of street stops that target blacks or Hispanics 87 percent of the time." According to data compiled by the New York Times, found at this link, http://projects.nytimes.com/crime/homicides/map, Blacks commit 61% of the murders in New York City. Hispanics commit 29% of the murders, Whites 7%, and Asians 3%. That means blacks and hispanics commit 90% of the murders in New York City. So if they are getting targeted 87% of the time by the NYPD, maybe they should be getting targeted 90% of the time! Statistics don't lie.

  • BrendaMitchell||

    what Jonathan implied I'm surprised that you able to get paid $8990 in a few weeks on the internet. have you read this site... http://www.Can99.com

  • Mark22||

    I don't think it's a "rash action" to walk up to someone on my private property and say "what are you doing here?". That's the "worst" that Zimmerman may have done. It's dangerous (I wouldn't do it), but not rash.

    The cause of the fatal conflict seem to have been Martin's racist attitudes ("crazy-ass cracker" = "crazy-ass white slave driver"), racially motivated fears and sense of offense, and erroneous belief that violence was the correct response.

  • melpee||

    It is up to the crime fighting cop to stop and frisk those who he suspects of being a potential criminal. If most are black or Hispanic the cop should be given an award for good police work.

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