Bill Bratton: Black Lives Matter Protesters’ Focus on Police Is ‘Bigotry’

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton speaks at the press
“A different kind of bigotry.” Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

On Monday, New York mayor Bill de Blasio praised Black Lives Matter as a “positive movement” that “hits the right note” on race and policing in America. Moments later, his police commissioner argued that the movement was motivated by a “kind of bigotry” — because it doesn’t protest against black people who refuse to cooperate with cops, Politico reports.

I have no concerns at all with Black Lives Matter, the name of the organization or the focus on concerns of blacks,” Bratton began, distinguishing his position from that of former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who decried the movement as “inherently racist” on Monday. “But the concern I have is … any organization that seeks to stereotype us, define us.”

Bratton then read from prepared remarks: >

The germ that allows racism to grow is the stereotype, the painting of a wide brush of a race or color or a region. When you have protesters who are claiming police are racists, all police are racists, or that cops are cold-blooded killers, you have the same construct … Thirty-eight percent of our shooting victims refuse to cooperate with the police. They won’t talk with us. Yes, that is frustrating. But no one seems to be marching against that. So when I see marchers, many of whom don’t even live in the communities focused on, only on the narrow issue of shootings by police, which in New York is rare by comparison — 33 shootings, 36,000 cops, a year in a city of eight and a half million people — I see it as a different kind of bigotry.”

In response, de Blasio suggested that black activists aren’t narrowly focused on police violence. Rather, the mayor contended that the media fails to notice the black community’s myriad efforts to combat violent crime.

My simple message would be every day in all communities there are people working to stop crime. There are people speaking out, there are people working with the police,” the mayor said. “There are neighborhood patrols, tenant patrols. … All of that is a form of renouncing violence and taking responsibility and that doesn’t hardly ever get the attention or respect it deserves. So I think we need to pay a lot more attention to what people are actually doing to make their communities better.”

Earlier in the press conference, de Blasio explained that he sees Black Lives Matter as a “very broad, diffuse, decentralized movement, the core of which I think has hit the right note.”

The back-and-forth represents a rare instance of explicit public disagreement between the mayor and NYPD commissioner. And it comes at a moment when relations between City Hall and 1 Police Plaza are strained — last month, New York City’s largest police union announced it would be launching an independent campaign against de Blasio’s reelection bid in 2017.

Last week, an off-duty NYPD officer fatally shot 37-year-old Delrawn Small. Officer Wayne Isaacs initially claimed that he’d only opened fire after Small had punched him in the face multiple times, but surveillance video appears to show that Small was shot within seconds of approaching Isaacs’s car. The New York State attorney general’s office is investigating the incident, and Isaacs has been stripped of his gun and badge, Bratton told reporters Monday.

Bratton: Protesters’ Focus on NYPD Is ‘Bigotry’