Washington - Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) on Thursday rapped Hillary Rodham Clinton for her speech on police-community relations Wednesday amid recent protests and violence in Baltimore following the death of a 25-year-old black man after being arrested by police.
The Democratic frontrunner for president in 2016 on Thursday called for rethinking the criminal justice system and for ending mass incarceration in a speech at Columbia University, echoing President Barack Obama’s call for "soul searching."
“We have to come to terms with some of the hard truths about race and justice in America,” said Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for president in 2016.
King, the son of a New York police detective who is weighing a run for the Republican nomination for president himself, rejected Clinton’s call.
“Hillary Clinton's remarks on race relations were entirely off the mark,” King said about the former secretary of state in an email to his supporters. “Rather than ‘come to terms with some hard truths about race and justice in America,’ Sec. Clinton ignored basic truths and perpetuated false narratives based on political correctness and liberal ideology.”
King’s statement came as a disappointment to one of his constituents, a member of the civil rights coalition Make the Road New York.
"I'm very concerned with the Congressman's response,” said Frank Sprouse-Guzman, Bay Shore resident. “What happened in Ferguson, Staten Island and Baltimore were crimes by the police, instances of police taking the lives of people without legal justification. Just today, I joined Long Island residents to call for greater police accountability and a better Long Island for us all. It's sad that my Congressman isn't hearing our call."?
King also defended the aggressive “broken windows” policies, now under revision by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, that Rudy Giuliani ushered in as mayor in the early 1990s and Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued during this three terms. King said Hillary Clinton should thank Giuliani for the reduction in the number of murders in New York City.
Giuliani worked with then-President Bill Clinton and then-Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-Brooklyn) to pass the tough 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The approach fostered by that act that nearly doubled the number of police on the street, hiked penalties for drugs, and sparked a rise in incarceration and prison-building boom.
Now Hillary Clinton seems to have second thoughts on that policy. “There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts,” she said.
King singled out Clinton’s portrayal of the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island last year for criticism. King said Brown was a criminal who attacked the police officer who shot him, and Garner was being arrested at the request of minority shop owners who deemed him a nuisance.
What Clinton said was: “What we’ve seen in Baltimore should, indeed does, tear at our soul. And, from Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable.”
King responded: “Race relations are complex and difficult. The issue is serious and demands serious thought. Unfortunately Sec. Clinton missed the opportunity to give us that.”