JAMAICA — Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed the NYCLU for its opposition to the city's stop-and-frisk policy Sunday, calling the civil liberties group "dangerously wrong on the Constitution" and “no better than the NRA.”
Speaking at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Queens on the heels of a disturbing spike in gun violence, the mayor continued to defend the controversial practice, which has come under fire from critics who say it unfairly targets and alienates communities of color.
“If the NYCLU is allowed to determine policing strategies in our city, many more children will grow up fatherless and many more children will not grow up at all,” he said of the group, which has sued to prevent stop-and-frisks as well as police patrols of NYCHA housing and other private buildings.
He accused the group of putting its ideology ahead of New Yorkers' safety, just like the anti-gun group that he has long railed against.
“Let’s be clear: the NYCLU’s priority is not protecting our safety. It is protecting their ideology," he said. "And in that regard, they are no better than the NRA.
"One group views the Second Amendment in absolutist terms; the other group views the Fourth Amendment in absolutist terms. Both groups, I think, are dangerously wrong on the Constitution,” he added. "The right to bear arms and the right to privacy do not trump the right of citizens to walk down their own street, or walk down their own hallway, without getting blown away."
But NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said the mayor was misplacing the blame.
"It's a lot easier to trash the NYCLU than to acknowledge the widespread dissatisfaction the community feels with an NYPD that acts like it's above the law and accountable to no one," Lieberman said in a statement, pointing out that, on average, more than 1,800 New Yorkers are stopped by police each day.
"This is not about an argument between the mayor and the NYCLU," she said. "This is about the need for policing practices that keep all of New York City's communities safe while respecting the fundamental rights and liberties of every person, young and old, black and brown."
Police stopped nearly 700,000 people last under the program last year.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly came under fire last week after he complained that elected officials representing minority communities haven't done enough to condemn the recent shootings.