Hey if Al Sharpton can say William Bratton is a friend, maybe Rodney King was onto something: we can all get along. In fact, it was Bratton’s stint as reform-minded top cop in King’s Los Angeles that surprised and impressed Sharpton–and convinced the community firebrand that his old nemesis was a man of broader dimensions. When Bratton, who will be the new NYC police commissioner come January, last held the same position under the tyrannical hizzoner Rudy Giuliani, he and Sharpton caused each other plenty of trouble. But Bratton’s effectiveness in minority and gang outreach in LA showed the kind of promise that Sharpton hopes will find its ultimate fulfillment in New York, which is beset by the same big city problems–gangs and guns, not least. Sharpton’s causes align pretty well with those of the new mayor, Bill de Blasio, so you can trust he’s been encouraged to ameliorate and wait, rather that worry and hurry to judgment. We’ll see how long it lasts.
Stop and Frisk is the problem that gets the most ink, with civil liberties advocates enraged by this practice of random police stops that disproportionately target minorities. But even as Sharpton campaigns against Stop and Frisk, one of his top priorities is the same as the ostensible purpose of this disputed technique: keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Sharpton, writing in the Daily News, claims that “A reduction in gun violence and the safety of everyone is an extreme priority for myself and for all New Yorkers.” Safe streets–the holy grail for Bratton and Sharpton–will require cooperation, compromise, and trust, which has long been in short supply.