A shift from 'the left' for Democrats on policing, NYC primary, and top news
The Update - 7/14
Welcome to my freemium newsletter by me, King Williams. A documentary filmmaker, journalist, podcast host, and author based in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a newsletter covering the hidden connections of Atlanta to everything else.
Questions on Atlanta (city and metro) for the first-ever mailbag edition next Friday, July 16th
This Friday, I’m hosting my first-ever mailbag edition of the newsletter. The mailbag is for any question on Atlanta. So far, I’ve got a few great questions as well as a lot of comments on The Battery ATL, so get them in by Thursday!
BookClub - July 18th with author Rebecca Burns
This Sunday, July 18th, we will be having a conversation with Rage in the Gate City author Rebecca Burns at 2pm. The talk is open to anyone, not just book club members. You can click here on Sunday to join in the conversation. Meeting ID: 821 6207 1857/Passcode: 655990
Red Clay News
Senator Warnock and others have introduced legislation to cover Medicaid expansion for states like Georgia which have resisted.
Invest Atlanta still is taking applications for its latest cohort of small business grants, you have until Friday, July 23rd to fill it out. You can do so here.
Several counties and cities are also weighing in on property tax increases n Powder Springs, Acworth, Cobb.
The High Museum just opened up its newest exhibit Outside The Lines.
The DeKalb History Center has a new exhibit opening on August 6th on the history of Avondale Estates.
Sapelo Island’s service weekend is coming up August 13th-15th
A brother of a convict in a Powder Springs prison has been charged with trafficking after attempting to use a drone to smuggle drugs into the prison.
Midtown (formerly Grady) High School's front lawn will become a parking lot.
Sharon Gay leads the funding race for the mayor of Atlanta after giving herself a $1m loan.
Doug Shipman leads the funding race for Atlanta City Council president.
Gwinnett is looking for public input for tax increases.
Gwinnett is also looking for applicants for its school’s curriculum committee.
…And the Gwinnett County School District is also looking to lower the tax rate for school funding.
A counter lawsuit has been filed in Ohio to reinstate federal unemployment benefits.
California Governor Gavin Newsome is rolling back his $1 billion dollar climate plan, which includes backtracking on addressing key contributors like fossil fuels.
People are looking for clemency for Gwen Levi, a woman on parole who didn’t answer a phone call in a job training course, who was then sent back to prison.
25-34-year-olds are dying at the same rate as they did in the 1950s.
A deadly clash in Caracas, Venezuela between gangs and the police, has left 26 dead.
China has cracked down on another company, this time ride-hailing service Didi. The company has been temporarily banned in the country in addition to its app has been pulled from Chinese App stores in addition to having 5% of its IPO listing shaved by the Chinese government.
Cuba is having its first anti-Communism protests in decades.
South Africa is experiencing deadly riots and looting over the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma.
Other media I’m checking out
Quianah Upton of Nourish Botanica (who I featured on the podcast) hosted an IG Live conversation with up-and-coming Atlanta Chef Claudia Martinez.
Shaq on the Earn Your Leisure podcast live in Atlanta
Today’s topic: The Election of Eric Adams in NYC is a shift from ‘the left’ for Democrats
Former police captain Eric Adams has won the New York City Democratic Primary. Adams won with the slimmest of victories, over Kathryn Garcia. Adams will face off in the fall against Republican Curtis Sliwa in November.
A. Rank Choice Voting
Unlike other cities and states, New York City has just implemented a rank-choice voting system. In this system, the person with simply the most votes moves on to the next round, while lower-performing candidates are removed from the ballot. The rank choice system is meant to give voters more choices of candidates by ranking their preferred candidates, instead of just choosing one. The move is meant to be more democratic, especially in the two-party system of the US. Should a candidate not meet the threshold of over 50% of first-choice votes is where things get interesting. I’ll use the website Ballotpedia to explain it more:
A ranked-choice voting system (RCV) is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner.
If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated.
First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots.
A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority
If that didn’t help, here’s a video from CBS News to explain NYC’s choice ranked system:
B. New York City has the widest range of Democratic candidates in the country, the voters elected a cop.
New York City is a Democratic stronghold, as the US’s largest city has gone for the Democrat/Liberal mayoral candidate every year in the modern era of politics (from Richard Nixon’s presidential election in 1968-onward). The exceptions to this are the two terms of Rudy Giuliani from 1994-2002 and the first term of Michael Bloomberg from 2002-2006. Bloomberg has since switched parties, becoming a major player in national Democratic politics.
The selection of Adams offers a remix of the strong-arm policing that many New Yorkers want with the hopes of stopping the city’s recent crime wave*. But for Adams, who isn’t fully mayor yet, being the mayor of NYC also requires being more socially forward on non-policing issues alongside providing stability for the largest financial center in North America. In the city of AOC and Jamaal Bowman, the voters have given the door to the centrism of outgoing mayor Bill DiBlasio, and have found the center-right candidate in Adams. The election is far from over, but Adams's win over more progressive and leftist candidates is now being seen as a bellwether for the Dems on a national level. Adams’s election is a Rorschach test on where you believe the future of the Dems is heading.
C. ‘Law and Order’ politics is back
This comes as lawmakers, especially Democrat mayors have largely abandoned any means of reform or addressing issues of police misconduct since the summer of 2020. For activists, the election of Adams represents a return to the over-policing strategies of ‘stop and frisk’, mass incarceration efforts of the ‘war on crime’, and ‘broken windows policing’ of law enforcement in the city. This is after the anecdotal response has been that because the police aren’t ‘supported’ and stopped policing in New York City, (all) crime went up. While evidence says something else.
The Adams win is a part of a shift from ‘the Left’ for Democrats
For Adams, this pivot from Black Lives Matter to Blue Lives Matter is one that is taking over cities across the country. As many were concerned that the Dems were becoming ‘too left’, despite whatever the GOP is doing this week.
With the combination of a uber-successful media strategy of associating Democrats with violence at protests last summer, the GOP and their supporters like many police unions across the US are in the driver seat. This is despite the majority of the damage being done by white nationalist and anarchist groups, not Black people or Black Lives Matter; as well as connecting Dems with the rise in violence, (urban violence in particular), we’re seeing both National and local Dems starting to distance themselves from activists. This includes being completely railroaded on police budgets and dismissing any calls for reform of the police.
Adams pledges to address racial inequities in targeting Black and Latinx residents while also adhering to the standard operating procedures of the pre-covid NYPD. These two things don’t mix as the NYPD and its purposely targeting of Black and Latinx residents have a well-known history of conflict. Black voters are hoping Adams can be both Black and blue, something too often resulting in ‘the blue’ being more important than being Black.
The Dems are ‘soft on crime’ rhetoric is also back
The notion of being ‘soft on crime’ is a top-tier dog whistle and really not based on reality or history. America is very hard on crime, even more, when combined with incarceration. And the notion that the Democrats, the same Dems in the modern political era, gave us such greatest hits as (checks notes*): The 1986, 1987, and 1994 crime bills. It’s been one of the most successful political strategies of the last 50 years, ‘law & order’ politics. From the 1960s to the present, the Democrats have been accused of being soft on crime. This was a result of late 1960s and 1970s anti-Black rhetoric and attacks on social programs resulting from the end of the civil rights movement and white flight from cities.
This became perfected during the 1980s Reagan-era as the crack epidemic provided an opportunity to start dismantling the social safety net while also granted the expansion of police powers. Police powers that were given steroids by enacting of the 1986, the 1987, and 1994 federal crime bills, often with heavy Democratic support. Bills that were pushed by Democrats and a majority (but definitely not all) of Black lawmakers. The spike in drug-related violence was cover for dismantling most things that actually help solve crime—social programs including welfare, after-school programming, and education.
“We want more police”
Everyone is asking for more police now, a complete departure from one year ago.
This isn’t to say that simply having more street-level officers does deters a lot of petty crime, it does not stop crime. Police are best at protecting businesses, patrolling areas, surveillance, and deterring some petty street-level crimes. Having an established visual presence of police does aid in reducing theft and public disorder. But simply having more officers does lead to arrests but this is not equal to lowering crime. What does lower crime is having police and addressing key issues around jobs, health care, activities for young adults, among other things is what drives the rate down. Having more officers doesn’t necessarily solve existing crimes either, nor does it correlate to clearing more cases, nor prevents major crime syndicates.
More policing leads to more arrests BUT this is not equal to lowering crime
Having more police will lead to more arrests, but this often requires two problems:
More foot patrols protecting business interests (ex: Wall Street) and specific social spaces (ex: Times Square), which will require some aspect of profiling
Targeted (often racially directed) crackdowns on selected groups (ex: Latino males in the Bronx) and/or communities (ex: Brownsville in Brooklyn)
In NYC this results in Black people accounting for 48 percent of all arrests and Latinx people accounting for 34% of all arrests during that same period. This is the reality of the policing some people are advocating for… It’s not policing the city, it’s policing Black and Latinx people.
What these crackdowns and sweeps actually accomplish is increase the likelihood of thwarting people committing petty ‘crimes’, reducing the escalating of violent crimes (ex: a fight that turns into a shooting), and deters a lot of crimes of proximity (ex: robberies). What having more police actually does is lead to more opportunities for harassment, violence, forced confessions, false arrests, and potentially more instances of misconduct from officers. Often within the communities that are often targets of ‘law & order’ policies and ask for their help in the first place. This will be enough to suffice the economic and social interests of Manhattan but not enough to address chronic issues in non-gentrified Brooklyn or the Bronx.
D. The national ‘crime wave’ is a gun control issue…
The fight against crime is a fight against gun violence, period. One of the biggest disappointments of coverage in 2021 has been a lack of correlation of gun control to the spike in violence.
In New York City, there’s no exception as more weapons from outside of the city and state are being used in violent acts. It’s a phenomenon that is similar to Chicago, as typically Republican governed state legislatures allow for loose restrictions on firearms, which in turn get used in cities with very restrictive ones. It’s important to note the cities often are much bigger and have the understanding that more guns do not equal or lower crime rates. Especially in cities such as those in the Northeast. Republican-led cities have also seen an increase in homicides.
Via The Guardian (6/30/2021):
New York, a city of 8 million people, saw an increase of about 150 homicides and 700 nonfatal shootings…And yet, even after an estimated 25% single-year increase in homicides, Americans overall are much less likely to be killed today than they were in the 1990s, and the homicide rate across big cities is still close to half what it was a quarter century ago.
The data reflects something else, despite the media narrative
This doesn’t help when local media especially evening television, newspapers, and online provocateurs have almost exclusively been covering crime since Biden took office in January. The crime focus from these entities has not been on mass shootings, the January 6th insurrection, nor holding police accountable in rising homicides. The focus has instead been on how Democrats are allowing crime to happen, despite the evidence that homicide and violent crime is up everywhere. Not to mention, like Atlanta, NYC’s overall crime rate is down despite the violence ticking up.
For New York, the murder rate is nowhere near its levels of decades past. Despite its reputation, this year the city has seen a downtrend and the year-over-year rise of homicides was already at historic lows by 2019 and 2020.
E. White support has abandoned any idea of police reform
This was further cemented by right-wing smear campaigns from media agencies, prominent figures, and social media accounts misrepresenting both the movement and organization Black Lives Matter. As a result, both conservative/Republican support and broader White American support have fallen to all-time lows of support within one year.
From my June 23rd article ‘Atlanta is losing the narrative’:
The post-George Floyd/anti-BLM digital media campaigns helped sway the often white and conservative support it had immediately post-George Floyd in June of 2020, to abandonment by December, and to near-full abandonment by June of 2021….
White support of Black Lives Matter from 2020-to-2021:
Stop saying ‘Black voters’ want police too
This is often done by the Blue Lives Matter and anti-Democrat crowd to dismiss claims as well as belittle activists’ work. This is often said to dismiss any criticism of police. Ad nauseam this has been used to feign a long-running stereotype that Black people are inherently violent, and need to be policed at all times.
Multiple polls show Black people want some sort of security, often the only security available is the police. Black support for police is not in dismissal of misconduct. Black people want police to deter crime, not treat every Black person as a criminal. Black people also have stated in those same studies, instead of blanketed policing, they also want the end of policing on just the terms of the police—they want accountability and fairness. Not just compliance for law enforcement simply because they wear a badge.
F. Voters want a strong man to solve crime, the Dems establishment know this
The narrative of Democrats and the crime wave is fueling a different type of candidate. Adams in New York, Reed in Atlanta, and others running for office this year will likely see a rise in the return of ‘law & order’ Dems. The Republicans, despite not holding the majority of the US House, Senate, or Oval Office, have managed both locally and nationally to make crime the defining issue for the Dems.
Returning back to my ‘Atlanta is losing the narrative’ article:
Both Georgia and the national GOP, who devoid of actual ideas have successfully wedged themselves within the culture wars, this time as the anti-BLM, pro-law enforcement party. As a result, the GOP has seen a resurgence in political activity as well as a pivot by groups of people who are typically not for their platform—African Americans and young people. More importantly, the GOP and ‘law and order’ Democrats are likely to be more successful in 2021.
Despite the Dems holding the House, Senate, and White House, they are losing the media narrative ahead of a very consequential 2022 mid-term election. The Dems understand that abandoning calls for reform will be raucous amongst activist circles and on Twitter, but should be enough to dissuade potentially swing voters, as well as the ones who jumped on the bandwagon eight months ago.
This isn’t a total loss for reformers or activists as several other candidates have won their primaries as well. For instance, there are district attorneys and prosecutors who have recently been elected to office, including 5 new Black prosecutors. All of these individuals seek to break up the hold the NYPD has on the government.
But absolutely zero of the problems of policing have been addressed, even in a city as progressive and a Democratic stronghold like New York City. The police pulled out the little joker, and everyone threw in their hand at the spades table. The Democrats were on the verge of the largest reforms in history, with New York being potentially the National leader on reform. It should be no surprise that Adams is the police, but what should be is that he did win an election against a much more diverse field of qualified candidates and well-funded candidates in the liberal capital of America.