The police shooting of Kimani Gray on Sunday, after the 16-year-old allegedly pointed a loaded gun at officers, has led to three nights of memorial marches and mayhem, with some of the protesters trashing stores and attacking cops in East Flatbush. Three of the Democratic candidates for mayor have been cautious in their reactions, trying to defuse the tension while avoiding any political mistakes.
Bill de Blasio went to the Brooklyn neighborhood Monday night and pleaded for calm: “I understand if young people are frustrated, but we have to help them understand the way to deal with it should be a peaceful way,” he told the Daily News. “They have every right to protest — that’s the American way.” Christine Quinn, asked about the disturbances by a Fox 5 reporter yesterday, said, “I can understand why people are upset, but it’s never okay to act that emotion out violently,” and this afternoon e-mailed me an even-handed elaboration: “We must remain committed to doing everything possible to keep New Yorkers safe. I believe we can all come together as a city and work collectively to end gun violence, reduce tensions in our neighborhoods, and improve police-community relations.” Bill Thompson hasn’t made any public remarks about the episode.
John Liu is taking a decidedly more aggressive and skeptical approach. “This incident needs to be fully and publicly investigated,” the city comptroller told me this afternoon. “We cannot rely on the quick reassurances that officers acted within guidelines when there are many unanswered questions. That this teenager was shot in the back is disturbing and demands answers.” Gray, according to a report by the city’s medical examiner, was shot three times from the rear — and four times from the front, though the logistics of the shooting are unclear. Liu, who this week launched a series of “town hall meetings” about stop-and-frisk policies, will officially announce his candidacy for mayor on Sunday.