A controversial Black Lives Matter leader prompted an aggressive backlash after he appeared to threaten widespread violence in New York City over the likely reinstatement of a police program that had previously been scrapped. His comments led many to wonder if it would be possible for Mayor-elect Eric Adams to crack down on crime while also working towards police reform.
Black Lives Matter Leader Ignites Controversy
Hawk Newsome stirred the pot last week when he vowed there would be “riots,” “fire,” and “bloodshed” if Mayor-elect Eric Adams brought back a plainclothes unit to fight the city’s dangerous increase in violent crimes. The program was controversial because it had resulted in a number of police shootings.
Newsome’s comments came after a meeting with the mayor-elect at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The New York Post reported:
“Although Adams found common ground with the activists on plans to fight poverty in the black community, the former NYPD captain said he’ll be reinstating a revamped version of the undercover anti-crime unit that was disbanded at the height of widespread police protests last year.”
After the meeting, Newsome addressed reporters, saying that “if they think they are going back to the old ways of policing, then we’re going to take to the streets again.” He continued, “There will be riots. There will be fire, and there will be bloodshed.”
Throughout his campaign, Adams vowed he would bring back a “reinvented” version of the Anti-Crime Unit, which was responsible for cracking down on firearms, violence, and hard drugs.
The Eric Garner incident was one of the controversial encounters in which officers from the unit were involved. Newsome indicated he was frustrated because the mayor-elect “didn’t offer a comment on police reform … he wouldn’t offer us anything concrete,” during the meeting. “We will be at his front door, we will be at Gracie Mansion, we will be in the streets, if he allows these police to abuse us,” Newsome said.
In a conversation with the New York Post, Newsome attempted to clarify his remarks. “I am not threatening anyone. I am just saying that it’s a natural response to aggressive oppression, people will react,” the activist explained.
At times, the sit-down was contentious, with Adams getting into a verbal altercation with Chivona Newsome, Hawk’s sister. The Post noted that the meeting marked the first time Newsome met with an incoming or sitting mayor, “as he told The Post he refused overtures from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, calling him a ‘buffoon.’”
Can They Work Together?
Adams and Newsome have sharp differences when it comes to certain areas of policing. Newsome appears skeptical that the new mayor will hold officers accountable. During his campaign, Adams promised a strong law & order approach but also vowed he would not allow an environment in which officers are allowed to abuse their authority without consequences.
Surprisingly enough, however, Hawk Newsome is one of the few Black Lives Matter leaders who has demonstrated an ability to be reasonable. While he has railed against police misconduct, he has also called for an end to gang violence in his community. In 2017, while protesting at a pro-Trump rally, he was invited on stage to speak and managed to win over most of the crowd. He has also engaged in civil conversations with conservative commentators like Candace Owens.
If Newsome truly did not mean his remarks to be a threat, he will hopefully continue clarifying that he does not wish to incite riots. In the violent demonstrations that ensued after the murder of George Floyd, those who were killed or viciously wounded were mostly black men. To put it simply, rioting does far more harm to the black community than good.
There is a chance Adams and Newsome might be able to work together to develop meaningful solutions since they do have areas of commonality. But referencing threats of violence will make this impossible.
~ Read more from Jeff Charles.