May the good Lord, His angels and the blessed saints preserve me: I’m a Nazi.
Why else would I be happy that New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly got run off of Brown University’s campus back on Oct. 29?
But I’m not just happy; I’m downright GIDDY.
Here’s what happened: Kelly was invited to give a lecture at Brown University entitled “Proactive Policing in America’s Largest City.” He didn’t get a word in edgewise before protesters heckled him off stage.
Christina Paxson, the president of Brown University, issued the following “the-queen-is-not-amused” statement:
“The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront to both civil democratic society and to the university’s core values of dialogue and the free exchange of views.”
She’s right, of course. The conduct was “indefensible.” It was an “affront to civil democratic society.” It was the stifling of free speech.
And I approve of the conduct, which must make me some kind of a Nazi, right?
Well, maybe. But perhaps I should postpone donning that swastika. There are some compelling reasons for defending what those Brown University protesters did.
Those of you who have been following the news know that a federal judge recently ruled Kelly’s police department conducted hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal Terry stops.
Not only were the stops illegal, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled after hearing testimony from civilians AND police officers, but most were also racially motivated as well.
The buck stops with Kelly and his boss, then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. If the Terry stops were illegal, that means Kelly and Bloomberg broke the law.
Kelly should not be getting invitations to speak at prestigious institutions like Brown University. For the rest of his tenure as NYPD commissioner, Kelly should spend his time before committees of city, county, state and federal legislators to account for his lawbreaking.
Paxson and her Brown University myrmidons didn’t want Kelly brought to account; apparently they preferred that he be allowed to soft soap the illegal Terry stops and racial profiling that have run rampant under his regime.
No police commissioner anywhere in the country should be allowed to give a lecture on a college campus in which he or she defends wholesale law enforcement malfeasance and racial profiling as “proactive policing.”
Brown University honchos don’t realize this, but thank heavens there are students on that campus who do. According to news reports, they petitioned university officials to cancel Kelly’s speech.
Their pleas were ignored, so, in the words of student protester Jenny Li, “we decided to cancel it for them.”
Li sounds like an Asian name. If Jenny Li is indeed Asian American, she might have looked at the data about NYPD stop-and-frisk tactics and concluded that she had no dog in the fight. Blacks and Latinos were stopped and frisked the most.
Students across American campuses on May 4, 1970 might have thought they had no dog in the fight at Kent State University either, but many acted as if they did.
That was the day Ohio National Guardsmen fatally shot four students at Kent State University. Student protests erupted nationwide; some campuses had to close – prematurely – for the spring semester.
Li might be part of a new generation of college students, picking up where those in 1970 left off. They made a decision that they didn’t want to hear a word Mr. “Thumb-My-Nose-At-The-Bill-of-Rights” Kelly had to say, and they acted on it.
Those students showed more gumption and guts than city, county, state and federal legislators who’ve failed to haul Kelly – and Bloomberg – before them and ask some darned hard questions about the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.
But that would be too much like legislators doing their jobs. It IS their job to investigate the wholesale violation of the civil liberties and civil rights of American citizens, isn’t it?
It’s also their job as legislators to act as a check and balance against the power of the executive and judicial branches of government. The Kelly-Bloomberg duo represent executive power run amok and at its very worst.
If legislators can’t rein in that kind of abuse of power, or even question it, then they should be run out of office as quickly as Kelly got run off of Brown University’s campus.