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Comments by YACCS
Friday, January 19, 2007

Despite total ignorance, I support this idea

Giuliani and Kerik

Giuliani and Broken Windows
by HarveyMilk [Subscribe]
Thu Jan 18, 2007 at 06:50:01 PM PST

In an ongoing series, I want to post diaries that piss off those who cling to the "conventional wisdom" of this site. Not just for the sake of pissing people off (that's an added bonus), but to get us to think.

I support the "Broken Windows" theory of law enforcement, and I support how Giuliani carried it out. It was necessary. It was effective.

I don't care if a Republican did it. New York is the better for it, and the whole country would be, too. So there.

On a national level, we Democrats were in the opposition forever. But, opposition is one thing. All you have to do is cry foul and profess a love of America. We're good at that. But now, we have power. And all signs point to us having even more power in 2008.

So, the time for righteous rants is over. Let's get to policy. That's were you can get into some trouble!

I live in an inner-ring suburb of Detroit, and I work in the City of Detroit (all in Wayne County, Michigan - the third bluest county in the country). John Conyers is my rep. I am (in my heart of hearts) a Democratic Socialist, and not simply a "Democrat," just like Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the same time, I support law enforcement taking the "Broken Windows" approach. Is being a "Democratic Socialist" and being an advocate of "Broken Windows" policing a dichotomy? No. I'll attempt to explain why.

A couple of days ago, I emerged from my concrete bunker of an office building to take my lunch (I'm a legal assistant). I encountered a man shitting on a public sidewalk. I gave him a look of disdain. He looked at me like I'd done something wrong!

In his defense, he appeared to be homeless and desperate. The good leftist in me knows that that isn't all his fault. And, every business in the CBD has signs posted saying "Restrooms are for Customers ONLY."

But, I couldn't help but think, if it were me, I'd find an alley, a place behind the dumpster to relieve myself. I wouldn't shit in front of everyone, and I wouldn't dare act like someone else had a problem if I were moving my bowels on public sidewalk.

Detroit struggles anyway with its national reputation. And we currently have the NAIAS in town. You would think law enforcement would stop things like public defocation. But no. I walked for six blocks to my destination, hoping that, along the way, I could hip a cop to the fact that someone was dropping the kids off in a public square. Get the guy some help. But, no member of law enforcement was to be found.

I think it will take a good, strong-minded Democrat to fix problems like this. A Republican looks cruel enforcing public decency - a Democrat wouldn't. Maybe a "Nixon Goes to China" thing, on the domestic tip.

To be clear, I'm not looking for a "blame the victim" solution, but I AM looking for a "quality of life" solution.

I care very much about the downtrodden in our society. I want to invest in mental health. But I don't want to watch someone take a shit in public on my way to get my lunch. And I damn sure won't put up with the shitter getting aggressive toward me. Fuck that, with no equivocation.

And where I am, we have only Democrats to blame.

Do you know anything other than Giuliani propeganda about Broken Windows or are you a racist who doesn't respect the constitution? You can be either. But Broken Windows failed.

This is the theory famously expounded by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in an article entitled Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety, which appeared in Atlantic Monthly in March 1982. They make the consequences of small-scale neglect very clear and very direct:

A piece of property is abandoned, weeds grow up, a window is smashed. Adults stop scolding rowdy children; the children, emboldened, become more rowdy. Families move out, unattached adults move in. Teenagers gather in front of the corner store. The merchant asks them to move; they refuse. Fights occur. Litter accumulates. People start drinking in front of the grocery; in time, an inebriate slumps to the sidewalk and is allowed to sleep it off. Pedestrians are approached by panhandlers.

The theory was that if you arrested people for small crimes, they wouldn't commit big ones.

However, crime in New York had already been going down because of community policing, where the police worked with the locals. Giuliani, who's antipathy towards blacks was noted, turned broken windows into a policy which led to extrajudicial murder.

What Broken Windows did was increase the number of blacks and latinos in the system for minor things like drinking outside, while whites would never be stopped, much less arrested for such activity. At one point, 80 percent of New York's black and latino males had been stopped and frisked. One particular opponent of Giuliani was illegally arrested 26 times.

But the consequences of Broken Windows created a racial divide which has never been truly healed.

Abner Louima

Louima was attending a nightclub in Brooklyn when police approached him and then arrested him. He was then taken into the bathroom, raped and had his rectum destroyed by a plunger.

Amadou Diallo

Diallo was coming home at 2 AM after getting a sandwich from the local deli. Four police stopped him and fired 41 shots at him. No gun was found, no evidence of a crime found. The police officers were aquitted by an Albany County jury, forever casting a pall over relations between the NYPD and the African American community. Extrajudicial murder usually does. The city settled with the Diallo family for several million dollars.

Patrick Dorismond

Getting off of work after a couple of drinks in a bar, he's approached by an undercover police officer. After a scuffle, he is murdered on the street by the NYPD. He had no gun, there was no evidence of any crime committed. The case is not prosecuted. His family settles for several million dollars.

This was the outcome of Giuliani's broken windows policing, innocents harassed, others extrajudicially tortured and murdered, a gross violation of civil rights.

Instead of looking to police solutions, why not work with the community to provide services for the homeless and petty criminals. People shouldn't have to die for reaching their wallet

posted by Steve @ 12:57:00 AM

12:57:00 AM

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