In the aftermath of a controversial Florida verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in a racially charged shooting case, mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner referred to the Nazis in opposing the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk procedures at a church on Staten Island.
In a recording from the speech on Sunday at First Baptist Central Church that was obtained by The Jewish Week, the former congressman expressed his view that racial profiling is prevalent in America, and said “last year more than 700,000 people in New York were stopped, the overwhelming majority of them were young men of color; 97 percent of them did nothing wrong. And the mayor stood up and said ‘wait a minute, statistically this’ and ‘statistically that.’ Well, you can have a 100 percent statistical reduction in crime if you stop everybody. You could have 1938 Germany, because everyone has to show their papers.” (Listen to audio, below.)
Weiner’s campaign spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, on Monday said he was not suggesting Nazi tactics by the police, nor implying the city was headed in that direction.
“The context of the reference was the argument made by some that stopping innocent citizens was an acceptable cost for public safety,” said Morgan. “He clearly was not equating 1938 Nazi Germany to New York City.”
Etzion Neuer, acting New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the reference crossed a line.
“Whatever one’s opinion of the New York Police Department’s ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy, the idea that this policy creates an environment analogous to Nazi Germany is offensive, especially to Holocaust survivors and their families,” Neuer said. “Elected officials are entitled to have strong opinions, but that does not excuse inappropriate and offensive analogies in these discussions or debates.”
State Sen. Simcha Felder also condemned the comments and called on Weiner to apologize. And longshot Democrat mayoral candidate Sal Albanese said “It’s an outrage that anyone who wants to lead this city and its police department would fan the flames and stoop to such appalling lows to gain a few votes.”
In the short recording, Weiner is also heard saying the way to stop profiling is “to lead by example, those of us in government,” although he is not currently an elected official.
Members of the heavily African American congregation were heard applauding or verbally agreeing with Weiner at some points., such as when he said “Every single year people keep saying maybe this will be the year we end racial profiling in this country, but it never seems to happen.” There was also applause after the Germany line.