A Quieter Giuliani


I always thought Bloomberg's great asset was he knew how to take many (though not all) of the policies from the Giuliani era, and sheer them of his predecessors unbounded lust for loud and public combat.  

Here's a piece at Atlantic Cities which looks at Bloomberg's long history of cracking down on protesters, apparently, just for the hell of it:

If you were surprised that New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg sent heavily armed police into Zuccotti Park in the middle of the night to break up the Occupy Wall Street demonstration--despite the fact that a poll released the same day shows 58 percent of registered New York voters think the camp should be permitted--you shouldn't have been. To New Yorkers familiar with Bloomberg's past reactions to protests, the real surprise is that he didn't do it sooner. 

The first protest Bloomberg tried to suppress was against the impending invasion of Iraq on February 15, 2003. The city, citing only vague security concerns, refused to grant a permit to march, allowing only a stationary rally and cramming attendees into a narrow penned area. Hundreds of thousands of protesters were unable to get within earshot. During the Republican National Convention in 2004, the NYPD took an especially aggressive approach to handling protesters. 

Although there was not a single incident of protester violence, 1,800 arrests were made, many of them pre-emptively. (They were held until after the RNC ended and then released, often without charges.) The city has had to pay millions of dollars in settlements for wrongful arrests, but has successfully blocked efforts to force the release of records on what the NYPD was doing and why. Even more remarkable, the NYPD conducted an elaborate spying operation on potential protesters for a year before the RNC, traveling all over the country to attend meetings posing as activists. 

As The New York Times reported, "in hundreds of reports stamped N.Y.P.D. Secret, the Intelligence Division chronicled the views and plans of people who had no apparent intention of breaking the law, the records show. These included members of street theater companies, church groups and antiwar organizations, as well as environmentalists and people opposed to the death penalty, globalization and other government policies."

And no one's going to stop this. Bloomberg has found a sweet-spot. The default position of most people is that cops are always right, and the people they arrest are wrong. The police union is arguably the most powerful in the city. 

Moreover, Bloomberg has not been so stupid as to release the juvenile records of an innocent man killed by the cops in a buy-bust. He flies just below the outrage radar. And so citizens have decided to give him a free hand, and dismiss the civil suits as the cost of doing business.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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