Over the weekend, several New York City public officials made statements about the need for oversight or reform of a law that allows the NYPD to kick people out of their apartments without charging them of crimes. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s voice was distinctly absent from the chorus.
Concern came after the New York Daily News and ProPublica published an investigation into the practice, known as “nuisance abatement,” which allows cops to close off homes and businesses that they suspected are being used to commit crimes. Many of those kicked out of their homes were never convicted of crimes or even arrested, the investigation found. Others agreed to far-reaching settlements barring family members and others from living with them, often without the presence of a lawyer. The law is used almost exclusively against people of color.
The News published a follow-up this morning quoting City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Vivertio, Public Advocate Letitia James, State Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, and other public servants about the need to curtail these apparent abuses. De Blasio, when contacted by the paper, did not comment, deferring to the NYPD. The NYPD did not comment either.
On the most obvious instance of NYPD injustice since officers literally stopped and frisked more young black men than the number of young black men living in the city at the time, the firebrand cop-hating mayor of a thousand New York Post editorials is taking a back seat. It’s not hard to understand why: De Blasio was unafraid to speak honestly about the department at the beginning of his mayoralty, and the petulant NYPD almost launched a full-scale rebellion in response. Now, he is picking his battles, and for NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, the nuisance of a reform-minded mayor is temporarily abated.