No 2046 Posted by fw, September 7, 2017
“The city of New York announced Tuesday it is deploying funding for legal services for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients across the city, following the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program. In a message posted on Twitter, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “You are not alone. … If you face legal problems, we’ll be right there with you.” The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration’s agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington. This is a central theme in a new book by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González titled ‘Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities.’” —Democracy Now
In a Democracy Now interview, Amy Goodman asks Juan González to talk about progressive forces and voices in America. González says he first began to notice the emergence of a political movement about four years ago in cities across America. “Many young and progressive people were running for political office and actually winning seats in city councils and some even in mayoral races across the country…”
The focus of the 30-minute interview quickly shifted to focus on the rise of Bill De Blasio as a leading anti-neoliberal voice, culminating in his stunning 2013 election as mayor of New York City Mayor.
Below is a repost of the embedded video of the entire interview, plus DN’s transcript of the first half of the program, including my added subheadings, text highlighting, and a couple of added hyperlinks. (There will be no repost of the second half of the interview). Alternatively, watch the video and access the entire transcript on DN’s website by clicking on the following linked title.
TRANSCRIPT OF FIRST HALF OF INTERVIEW
“You are not alone” — NY Mayor Bill De Blasio stands up for 800,000 DACA recipients
Amy Goodman — The city of New York announced Tuesday it’s deploying funding for legal services for DACA recipients across New York. In a message posted on Twitter, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said, quote, “You are not alone. … If you face legal problems, we’ll be right there with you.” At a news conference, Mayor de Blasio urged President Trump not to mess with fellow New Yorkers.
“So I have a message for President Trump: Don’t mess with your fellow New Yorkers” – Mayor De Blasio
Mayor Bill De Blasio — We are here to stand by each and every one of them. Thirty thousand New Yorkers, this morning, were put in the crosshairs. They are our neighbors. They are our friends. They are our colleagues. They are our family members. We stand with all 30,000 DREAMers here in New York City and all 800,000 around this country. …
We are going to stand up to this. And New Yorkers do not take kindly to anything that affronts our fellow New Yorkers. We don’t take kindly to people being separated out because of who they are. So I have a message for President Trump: Don’t mess with your fellow New Yorkers.
Goodman — Meanwhile in Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh also slammed President Trump for rescinding DACA.
“I can say this honestly to the White House: We don’t want you here in Boston” – Mayor Marty Walsh
Mayor Marty Walsh — I can say this honestly to the White House: We don’t want you here in Boston. We don’t want any part of you in Boston. We’re doing perfectly fine without you. I think it’s a sad statement that the president of the United States of America and the attorney general of the United States of America are sending messages out to so many good young people. Many of those young people, the DREAMers that we’re talking about, right now are fighting for this country, fighting with their uniform on, under this flag, and proud of that.
“Who are the progressive forces and voices in America?”
Goodman — The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration’s agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington.
This is a central theme of a new book by my colleague Juan González, co-host of Democracy Now! It’s titled Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities. The book examines how de Blasio and other progressive city leaders are leading a nationwide revolt against corporate-oriented, neoliberal policies that have dominated urban America for decades. In addition to co-hosting Democracy Now!, Juan González is author of a number of books, including Harvest of Empire, News for All the People and Fallout. He was a staff writer at the New York Daily News from 1987 ’til just last year, now a professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.
Juan, it’s great to have you here talking about your new book, Reclaiming Gotham. I mean, we see the mass protests just yesterday and today around DACA, and this is really the major thesis of your book. Who is speaking out now? Who are the progressive forces in America?
“… you have to try to understand the systemic things that are happening” – Juan Gonzalez
Juan González — Well, yes, Amy. I began to notice, actually about four years ago, in 2013, that there was something happening in the cities across the country that was actually a movement, a political movement that was not getting much attention. And that is the rise, post-the Great Recession, post-the Occupy Wall Street movement, that many young and progressive people were running for political office and actually winning seats in city councils and some even in mayoral races across the country, and that they were, in essence, the political—the political effect of a mass movement now that has been building across the country for decades, and that Bill de Blasio—and, you know, people say to me, “Well, has Juan González gone crazy? Is he now wanting to praise Democratic politicians?” I think that you have to look beyond individuals, and you have to look beyond positions, and you have to try to understand the systemic things that are happening.
De Blasio’s stunning mayoral victory in New York was a reflection of what was going on across the country
One of the things I realized was that the de Blasio victory in 2013, because New York City is such an important part of the United States—we’re talking about a city with a $70 billion budget back then, with 300,000 employees. It is a huge administrative unit of government in America. And the fact that a left-leaning progressive, de Blasio, complete upstart, who no one expected to win, had captured the most important city in the United States and the center of world capitalism, had captured its administrative apparatus, that that was only a reflection of what was going on across the country. And very few journalists and scholars have begun to look at this as a movement. So I started doing more research into other cities to try to understand how this happened, how real was it in terms of substantive change for the future. So that’s what my book is about.
Goodman — Your book begins with the scene on Inauguration Day in 2014 here in New York City. I want to go back now to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaking at his inauguration in 2014.
De Blasio lays out his ambitious progressive platform for New York
Mayor Bill De Blasio — We will expand the paid sick leave law, because no one should be forced to lose a day’s pay, or even a week’s pay, simply because illness strikes. And by this time next year, fully 300,000 additional New Yorkers will be protected by that law. We won’t wait. We’ll do it now. We will require the big developers to build more affordable housing. We will fight to stem the tide of hospital closures. And we’ll expand community health centers into neighborhoods in need, so that New Yorkers see our city not as the exclusive domain of the 1 percent, but a place where everyday people can afford to live, work and raise a family. We won’t wait. We’ll do it now.
Goodman — Bill de Blasio on his Inauguration Day in 2014. Of course, he’s running again, primary next week. You set the scene with his family, well, not coming in a limousine to City Hall.
De Blasio and family take the subway to his inauguration, sending a clear message of change
González — Right. Well, they actually came by subway from Brooklyn, and they emerged from the City Hall station, just as everyone was gathered around at the inauguration ceremony. And I think it was a clear message being sent, that this was a—first of all, that it was an outer borough mayor, someone who came from—not from Manhattan, which is typically where Manhattan mayors—where New York City mayors come from, but, more importantly, that it was from—it was a part of a movement. And I think that the reality is that Bill de Blasio, interestingly, has been both a political operative of the Democratic Party now for many years, but has always had close ties to the labor movement, to the grassroots organizations that were fighting around protecting public schools and against charter schools. And it was this movement, really, that helped to propel him into office.
Other anti-neoliberal US mayors who seek to change the way American cities are governed
The question is—and I think it’s a fair question—is that it’s a lot easier to criticize government and a lot harder to govern, especially in a progressive direction in a capitalist society. So, the question is—many critics have raised of de Blasio and of the other mayors that I deal with, because I deal with more than a half-dozen around other—in Minneapolis, Walsh in Boston, Bill Peduto in Pittsburgh, Murray in Seattle, Gayle McLaughlin’s tenure in Richmond, California, Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi. All of these mayors, in one way or another, were trying to implement a vision opposed to the neoliberal policies that have governed American cities now for about 50 years, and opposed to the growth machine policies that have really run our cities for a hundred years. And they were opposed to those in one way or another and have sought to change the way America’s cities are governed.
Goodman — And before we get to the urban growth machine, that image of de Blasio’s family and how important that was in his election and what has meant—who his family is?
New Yorkers see in De Blasio – biracial marriage with biracial daughter and son – as a symbol of the City’s diversity
González — Well, yes. Bill de Blasio has got—has maintained very widespread support in the African-American and Latino community, not so much support in the white community of New York City. In fact, he has minority support in the white community. Yet the African-American and Latino community have remained very loyal to his mayoralty so far. I think it’s, one, because of the economic impact of his policies, but also because they see in de Blasio, married to an African-American woman, with biracial children, a living symbol of the diversity of New York City and of a sense of caring about what happens to the poor and to the African Americans and Latinos of the city. So I think that the—in fact, his son is really credited, really, with being responsible for his sudden surge, with the famous commercial that his son did in August—
Son, Dante De Blasio, praises dad at pop’s 2013 Inauguration
Dante De Blasio — I want to tell you a little bit about Bill de Blasio. He’s the only Democrat with the guts to really break from the Bloomberg years, the only one who will raise taxes on the rich to fund early childhood and after-school programs. He’s got the boldest plan to build affordable housing. And he’s the only one who will end a stop-and-frisk era that unfairly targets people of color. Bill de Blasio will be a mayor for every New Yorker, no matter where they live or what they look like. And I’d say that even if he weren’t my dad.
Goodman — It’s this young African-American man with an afro. You just see him talking about Bill de Blasio, the candidate; at the end, his white father walking with him down the street.
New Yorkers easily identified with De Blasio and family
González — Well, and I think that’s what captivated many New Yorkers, because, until that moment, I would say the majority of New Yorkers did not even know that de Blasio had biracial children and was an interracial marriage. And I think that that sort of awakened a lot of people to say, “Hey, I should take another look at this guy.” And I think that then, of course, the policies were critical, the policies that directly affected the lives of African Americans and Latinos and working-class New Yorkers.
Goodman — And let’s go to one of those policies that directly related to his son, this pivotal moment in 2014, when Eric Garner is killed, put in a fatal police chokehold in Staten Island. The officers had confronted Garner for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Protests erupted over lack of police accountability. Shortly afterward, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and his wife Chirlane, who is African-American, fear for the safety of their teenage son, Dante.
De Blasio goes public with his fears for the safety of his black son because of police violence against blacks
Mayor Bill De Blasio — Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers he may face. Good young man, law-abiding young man, who never would think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him. And that painful sense of contradiction that our young people see first, that our police are here to protect us and we honor that, and the same time, there’s a history we have to overcome because for so many of our young people there’s a fear, and for so many of our families there’s a fear.
In dealing with police power, savvy De Blasio steps cautiously through a minefield
González — Yes. And he took a lot of heat from all sides of the political spectrum during that period of time, because, as you recall, he had already moved to further dismantle the stop-and-frisk policies of the Bloomberg administration, that were still being battled over in the courts. He settled the Central Park 5 case, jogger case, with multimillion-dollar settlements for those who had been wrongly convicted and jailed for the Central Park jogger case. He had—he was accepting much more oversight of the police department, outside oversight, that City Council had passed, which the police department was opposed to.
So the result was, he had a near insurrection among the rank-and-file police and the police unions for several months, especially after two police officers were shot and killed by a crazed—a crazed gunman a few months later. So, suddenly, de Blasio was confronted with—and I think this is one of the problems that many of the progressive mayors have had across the country, is that the police department is the army of a local government. And if the army rebels against the leader, it is very difficult for that leader to govern.
So, I think one of the things that happened with de Blasio early on is that he chose a controversial figure, Bill Bratton, to be his police commissioner, even though many advocates against police brutality were critical of Bratton, because he feared that the same thing would happen to him that had happened to David Dinkins, the last Democratic mayor, which is that the police department would rebel and allow crime to soar, and make his time in office ungovernable. So he decided to pick Bratton, who had loyalty among the rank-and-file police, because—believing that that would at least prevent the police from rebelling and allow him to implement his social agenda. To some degree, it worked; to some degree, it didn’t. And so, he has rightfully taken criticism for that decision, for backing the broken windows policy of Bill Bratton, although now that Bratton has left as police commissioner, so has, effectively, the broken windows policy that was pursued previously.
15:09 End of first half the interview.
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