Mr. Bloomberg was keen to take on the impossible, or at least the seemingly so. And he did. A man whose public personality came in a plain brown wrapper presided during an era of radical change and rebirth in the city, much of it fostered by his administration.
On March 15 of last year, at a moment when many New Yorkers found themselves increasingly disturbed by revelations that the Police Department had conducted constitutionally suspect surveillance of Muslim communities, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg made an unplanned visit to the offices of Goldman Sachs.
The mood had grown sour among some of the city’s most amply compensated plutocrats. The day before, Greg Smith, an executive director in the company’s equity derivatives business, announced his resignation, in an Op-Ed page article in The New York Times, declaring that the previous decade had left Goldman’s culture so steeped in avarice and self-interest, so utterly disdainful of its clients, that he no longer found it morally tenable to work there.
It was not simply that he was such an obvious champion of the financial industry, but also that in the city he ran he could barely brook any dissent of it.
The siren song of large numbers led the city to multiply the number of people that the police stopped and frisked. He was not naturally inclined to soaring oratory, so on his rare forays, the eloquence was indelible. Practically alone among elected officials in the United States, Mr. Bloomberg spoke in 2010 for the right of a Muslim group to open a mosque a few blocks from the site of the World Trade Center attacks, citing the founding principles of the nation. As he stood on Governors Island, with the Statue of Liberty visible over his shoulder, Mr. Bloomberg said: “We would be untrue to the best part of ourselves and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans if we said no to a mosque in Lower Manhattan.”
Last week, during a news conference in City Hall, the same mayor snarled at a judge for ruling that in searching the pockets of millions of young black and Latino men who had done nothing wrong, the police and the city had violated their constitutional rights. The moment lacked even a whisper of the grace that had made his voice so powerful on Governors Island.
But the Constitution protects the rights of individuals and does not recognize the laws of large numbers. It requires that the more invasive an action the authorities take against a person, the greater the cause must be.
Asked on Monday about a judge’s order that the police wear body cameras in five precincts for a year, to document precisely what was happening in the streets, Mr. Bloomberg seemed especially angry. A “nightmare,” he said. He insisted the test would fail: a police officer might turn his or her head and the camera would miss the action.
The judge said it would be an experiment, a pilot project for a year, but Mr. Bloomberg wasn’t having it. “It is a solution that is not a solution,” he declared.
Muslim-American civil rights groups are criticizing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for vetoing a bill on Tuesday (July 23) that would have created an independent inspector general to oversee the New York City Police Department.
The New York City Council passed the bill June 27 as a check against controversial NYPD policies that critics say violate the civil rights of Muslim and other minority New Yorkers. Reports that the NYPD spied on mosques, Muslim businesses, organizations and students began surfacing in 2011.
Critics say the surveillance program has caused many Muslims to stop going to Islamic institutions or speaking out in public, worried it could land them in legal troubles.
In the binary system offered by Machiavelli — “it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both” — the New York Police Department loses on either count.
The police in a big city can’t expect to be truly loved; it’s not part of the job description. At the same time, it is hard to imagine that the fondest wish of the department brass is to be feared. What, then, would distinguish them from an occupying force?
But there is a third possibility not covered by the Machiavellian construct. It is a middle path, arguably the sanest choice of all: to be respected. That’s where the department has been struggling of late, on several fronts.
Its surveillance of Muslims as part of its counterterrorism strategy has led to a concerted pushback from Islamic groups. The huge numbers of New Yorkers affected by its stop-and-frisk policy, principally young African-Americans and Latinos, have produced cries of racism and legislative attempts to limit the practice. Its battles with Occupy Wall Street have generated criticism that it fails to respect the rights of those engaged in lawful dissent.
NEW YORK — Two polls of New Yorkers offered conflicting views Tuesday about the police department’s gathering of intelligence on Muslims as it guards the city against another terrorist attack.
A survey by Quinnipiac University showed most voters in the city believe police have acted appropriately toward Muslims, while another, broader poll by Baruch College found New Yorkers evenly divided over whether the department should be focusing on Muslims.
Polling experts attributed the divergent findings to differences in wording and question order. Some of the same difficult questions have divided legal experts and politicians since The Associated Press disclosed the NYPD’s secret surveillance of Muslims in a recent series of stories.
New Yorker Carol Martin, a retired bookkeeper, said she is uncomfortable with the idea of putting people under surveillance with no evidence they are doing anything wrong, but considers it a necessary precaution.
NEW YORK — Ten years after 9/11, the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims has exposed a bitter divide between New Yorkers and their neighbors across the Hudson River, with city leaders defending the police force and out-of-town politicians angry to learn of New York detectives working their turf.
In New York, where random searches in the subway are the norm and Lower Manhattan is a maze of security barriers and guardhouses, polls show many residents support the NYPD. Editorial pages have said broad surveillance is needed to protect the city.
But across the Hudson River in New Jersey, and increasingly in Washington, politicians have decried the NYPD’s programs, and newspapers have editorialized against the surveillance operations.
The intelligence-gathering was first reported by The Associated Press in August, but it wasn’t until February that its reporters obtained documents detailing how the NYPD monitored Muslims beyond the city limits.
NEW YORK — The mother of a “lone wolf” accused of plotting to attack police stations and post offices with homemade bombs apologized to New Yorkers on Monday, even as questions arose about why federal authorities — who typically handle terrorism cases — declined to get involved in what city officials called a serious threat.
The mother of Jose Pimentel spoke to reporters outside her upper Manhattan home the day after her son was arraigned in state court on terrorism-related charges.
“I didn’t raise my son in that way,” Carmen Sosa said. “I feel bad about this situation.”
She also praised the New York Police Department, saying, “I think they handled it well.”
Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday that Americans should be tolerant of plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near the site of the World Trade Center in New York. The 90-year-old Stevens said it is wrong to lump all Muslims with the terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people. “Guilt by association is unfair,” he told the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation in Washington.
Stevens, a World War II veteran, compared the criticism of the mosque to the emotion he said he initially felt when he saw Japanese tourists at Pearl Harbor. Among the thoughts that he said flashed through his mind during a 1994 visit to the memorial to the Japanese attack that brought the U.S. into World War II was, “These people don’t really belong here.”
He said many New Yorkers might have had a similar reaction to news about the mosque in lower Manhattan. But Stevens said he realized he was drawing conclusions about a group of people that did not necessarily fit any one of the tourists he saw at Pearl Harbor.
This week, hundreds of mosques and Islamic organizations across the country have been encouraging their members to invite non-Muslims to attend prayers, discussions and tours of Islamic centers as a way to defuse hostility toward the Muslim population. “A Week of Dialogue,” materialized from a summit of Islamic leaders last month in New York and was, in part, a response to the furor surrounding a plan to open a Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero.
A New York Times poll in August found that 75 percent of New Yorkers had never visited a mosque, and that those who had, or who had a close Muslim friend, were more likely to support the Muslim center planned in Lower Manhattan. “In terms of rectifying this Islamophobia and bigotry, we should focus on our relationship with our neighbors,” said Zaheer Uddin, executive director of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, an umbrella group of mosques and Islamic groups in the city.
Juan Williams gave voice to such concerns this week when he said on the Fox News Channel, where he is a political analyst, that he got “nervous” when he saw people in “Muslim garb” on an airplane. National Public Radio, where Mr. Williams had also worked, terminated his contract on Wednesday; Fox gave him a new contract on Thursday. The organizers of the weeklong dialogue said the open houses were intended to help dispel just the sort of concerns that Mr. Williams expressed.
By JEFFREY GOLDBERG
Sarah Palin has called on “peace-seeking Muslims” to “refudiate” plans by the The Cordoba Initiative, a Muslim organization, to build a mosque and community center near the site of Ground Zero. After someone alerted her to the fact that “refudiate” isn’t actually a word, she deleted the original tweet and sent out two more: “Peaceful New Yorkers, pls refute the Ground Zero mosque plan if you believe catastrophic pain caused @ Twin Towers site is too raw, too real,” and, “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts. Pls reject it in interest of healing.”