Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has made a career of being Gotham’s fiercest opponent of the NYPD. He has campaigned against broken-windows policing, sponsored legislation to restrict how cops do their job and worked overtime to keep criminals on the streets.
No wonder why: It’s easy to want less policing when you live in the city’s safest and best-guarded gated community. As City & State reported in an August profile, Williams and his fiancée now live within the confines of the Fort Hamilton army base. Internet searches confirm his new, sequestered address.
Fort Hamilton, New York’s only active military garrison, sits boldly at the southwest corner of Brooklyn at the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, guarding the entrance to New York Harbor. Its residences, which are mostly meant to house military families, are now open to “qualified members” of the general public.
The Fort is fenced in by a secure perimeter guarded 24/7 by military police, which man its two entrances. Access to the base is tightly controlled; “all visitors and uncleared contractors desiring access to Fort Hamilton must be vetted” through national crime databases, per the fort’s website.
Williams, in other words, is safe as can be. Yet his hard work as an elected servant of disorder goes back years and includes his multiple arrests for interfering with the police. In 2018, for instance, while protesting the deportation of a convicted mortgage fraudster, Williams sat in front of an ambulance on lower Broadway.
In June, following several nights of riots, looting and violence, Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo imposed an 8 p.m. curfew. Williams, however, scheduled a defiant violation of the curfew at 8:01 p.m. in Times Square. Williams continued to break the curfew every night, encouraging others to join him.
Back then, he claimed he was spurred to civil disobedience by the police killings of unarmed people. Yet since then, the Big Apple’s violent-crime spiral overwhelmingly involves criminals — not cops — slaying poor people of color.
Even so, Williams wants still deeper cuts to the NYPD budget than those delivered by his fellow lefty officials. He threatened to paralyze the city, asserting his “charter-mandated” power to halt the collection of property taxes if his demands about slashing the budget weren’t met.
He didn’t succeed in that case. Still, Williams has been a powerful voice pushing New York City to the brink of disaster, where we currently teeter. He cosponsored the notorious “diaphragm” legislation that threatens to jail any cop who applies pressure to an arrestee’s back or chest. He sees abolishing jails as a worthy goal. And he complained that arresting serial turnstile jumpers can cause them “significant stress.”
Unlike classical civil dissidents, who were prepared to face the legal consequences for breaking the law, Williams does it as pure, self-serving spectacle. He has never faced any consequences for his pretend-play protesting.
And now he enjoys total protection from the consequences of the policies he champions.
As the holder of a citywide office, he can live anywhere he wants. As soon as he could, he deserted his home district of Flatbush and moved to a federally guarded military installation, where you need REAL ID-compliant documentation to enter. He is whisked in and out, in a chauffeured SUV, by his round-the-clock, city-funded NYPD security squad.
There are no drive-by shootings at Fort Hamilton. There are no homeless people. No open-air shooting galleries. No menacing druggies. Last week, Black Lives Matter went to Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch’s house to scream “All Cops Are Bastards” and other imprecations. Williams is blissfully immune from such scary insults; even if someone wanted to protest him at home, he would be unable to do so, because he would have to breach a US Army barricade.
Williams is now complaining that the NYPD isn’t doing a good enough job at proactively policing violent crime, and he wants to investigate “rumors” of a slowdown. It was hard enough to take him seriously before he ensconced himself in a heavily armed military cantonment. But now he really needs to knock off the clown show.
Seth Barron is associate editor of City Journal. Twitter: @SethBarronNYC
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