----- Original Message -----
From: <>
Sent: Thursday, June 15, 2000 4:57 AM
Subject: Why Giuliani`s Cops Did Nothing In Central Park

By Robert Lederman © 2000

It would be easy to follow the lead of Mayor Giuliani and blame the numerous individual police officers who apparently did nothing to prevent, investigate or even report to their superiors the mob violence, sexual assaults and robberies that took place in Central Park this past Sunday. Stereotypes of cops as lazy, donut-eating louts readily come to mind.

Is there another explanation?

Victims of the mob violence and numerous witnesses have reported that a large number of police officers stationed within yards of the hour long incident sat on benches during the attacks, refused to take reports from witnesses, radioed no one for help and even dissuaded some female victims from
filing a police report. The Mayor says that pending an internal police department investigation confirming the victim and bystander accusations, the cops will be fired.

Either NYPD officers are even worse people than activists have made them out to be or there is another side to this story, a side Mayor Giuliani desperately wants to obscure.

This incident perfectly illustrates the selective crime reporting and creative NYPD book-keeping behind Mayor Giuliani's very impressive-but unfortunately very phony-crime statistics. These statistically-oriented record keeping techniques, which in this case involved ignoring numerous sexual assaults, are the source of his undeserved reputation. To paraphrase a famous Zen saying, if a crime happens in NYC but the police don’t record it, did it really happen?

According to an article in the NY Post, police officers in the same general area and time as the attacks confiscated 2,500 bottles of beer, 100 bottles of liquor and 16 bags of marijuana and made 13 arrests. They also issued 700 summonses. Clearly the cops were very hard at work faithfully following
the prioritized orders of the Mayor.

Those orders include downplaying anything, including sexual assaults in Central Park, that might make his administration look bad. Anyone who has attempted as I have to report an assault, robbery or other crime to the NYPD during the seven years of the Giuliani administration knows how this game

The police do their best to dissuade you from making a report in the first place. If you are very persistent they will do their best to downgrade the seriousness of the crime. An assault gets written up as an dispute or harassment. A store break-in becomes a report of vandalism. Robberies gets recorded as lost property. As a result, crime statistics keep going down while crime may actually be going up.

The flip-side of this creative police book-keeping is that hundreds of thousands of unnecessary or false misdemeanor arrests each year which are never prosecuted or are dismissed by the City after a few court appearances are used as  the statistical “proof” of the Mayor’s crime fighting prowess. The
police are ordered by Giuliani to use massive amounts of personnel and resources to arrest panhandlers, homeless people, squeegee guys, street artists, truants, farebeaters, vendors, hookers, marijuana smokers and protesters.

These arrests cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year, remove thousands of officers from the streets to process the paperwork and do nothing whatsoever to make the City safer. If anything, the resentment these arrests and harassment cause in their predominantly Black and Latino
targets has made the City a hotbed of racial animosity. They have also made being an NYPD officer an increasingly distasteful career choice.

The carefully-maintained illusion that the City and especially Central Park and the surrounding midtown area have been transformed into a safe haven for tourists and the elite is the dogma at the center of the Giuliani myth. The 30 million tourists who visited the City last year, filled its hotels and boosted its economy will tell you (quoting Giuliani) that he personally eliminated crime and made New York the, “safest big city in America”.

The city-wide mayhem of this past weekend, in which the NYPD publicly admits to at least 40 separate attacks in which 59 people were shot or stabbed and six victims died (these figures do not include the Central Park sexual assaults and robberies), shows that you cannot believe everything you read
in a travel brochure. The reality is that murder, rape, bias crimes, sexual assaults and some categories of robbery are increasing in NYC despite a decade-long nationwide crime drop.

Blaming individual police officers for their seeming indifference in Central Park this Sunday is no more justified than blaming them for the racial profiling policy that has recently led to unarmed and innocent men being shot to death
in NYC. If there is anything the NYPD does well it is following orders. As the cops always say, we are just doing our job.

Their job is dictated each and every day by Mayor Giuliani who personally sets the priorities for the NYPD including deciding which individuals will be arrested, which behaviors will result in arrest and arrest quotas generally. At times of intense media scrutiny-as I’ve personally experienced on more
than one occasion-the NYPD even has non-arrest policies. This Sunday appears to have been one of those days.

If tomorrow morning the Mayor ordered the police to accurately document each and every crime they became aware of, NYC would instantly revert to being America’s statistical crime capital. Giuliani bragged on a recent installment of his Friday radio talk show that he was in charge of compiling
crime statistics for the Reagan Justice Department. Apparently he learned his lessons very well.

The police are used by Giuliani primarily as a tool of propaganda on the one hand and intimidation on the other. Maintaining the image and statistical results of crime fighting rather than focusing on actual crime fighting is the goal.

Where I live in Brooklyn cops are assigned to patrol the streets in excessive numbers during the day when elderly residents and storeowners will be sure to see them. They are on every corner, busily writing up their daily quota of parking tickets and searching for vendors to arrest. Their patrol cars
obstruct the streets as they pull over car after car for the slightest infraction causing even more traffic congestion than there already is.

All of this extremely visible police activity gives the illusion that the neighborhood is being heavily protected. The only problem is that these police officers are barely needed during the day when the streets are filled with people. At night when things become a lot more dangerous, disorderly and
disruptive, there’s not a cop to be seen.

There’s never a shortage of police day or night when it comes to harassing and intimidating protesters, however. Commenting on the Central Park attacks both Giuliani and Commissioner Safir claimed that no amount of police could
guarantee a crime-free park. This is the same Mayor who routinely sends an army of officers to clamp down on even the smallest protest that criticizes his policies.

On the streets of New York under Giuliani you have a better chance of getting away with a sexual assault than with displaying a painting critical of the Mayor. During a 65 day-long street artist protest in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1998 Giuliani had hundreds of officers on full-time duty surrounding a handful of artists peacefully creating and displaying anti-Giuliani signs and portraits. Each day for sixty-five days artists were dragged away in handcuffs.
Out of more than 100 arrests and criminal summonses issued during the protest not one resulted in a defendant plea bargaining, paying a fine or being convicted of a crime.

My own 41 arrests, not one of which has resulted in a conviction, involved hundreds of police officers, lawyers for the NYPD, high-ranking supervisors including Deputy Mayors, survellance and post-arrest interrogations by
detectives from the Intelligence Division and seven years of court appearances wasting the time and salaries of judges, District Attorneys and Legal Aid defense lawyers. Virtually every officer involved in my arrests spent his or her entire shift processing my arrest paperwork while freely
acknowledging that the arrest was probably unjustified and would be dismissed.

If police organizations like the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association want to salvage what’s left of their shredded reputation they need to go public with the truth about the Mayor’s manipulation of these statistics and his chronic
self-serving misuse of the NYPD. Instead of attacking Bruce Springsteen for using his freedom of speech to write a vaguely critical song about Amadou Diallo they need to exercise their own freedom of speech and expose the Mayor, who continues to be the City’s number one criminal.

Giuliani is showing no hesitation to place the blame for the Central Park scandal on the police. Will they quietly be the fall guys or will they show some real courage and expose the Mayor for the pathetic liar that he is?  We the people, the ones the NYPD are actually supposed to be working for, are
waiting to hear from New York’s Finest.

Robert Lederman, President of A.R.T.I.S.T.
(Artists’ Response To Illegal State Tactics)
  (718) 743-3722
Also see: [For essays and notes on
pesticides scroll down to and click on Lederman archive link
or go to]