David Dinkins, New York’s first and only Black mayor, dies at 93

By Derek Francis

(Reuters) – David Dinkins, who served as New York City’s first and only African-American mayor during the 1990s, died on Monday at the age of 93, police said.

His death appeared to be of natural causes, Detective Adam Navarro of the city’s police department told Reuters.

Born in 1927 in Trenton, New Jersey, Dinkins attended Howard University and Brooklyn Law School.

He eventually came to Harlem, the historically Black neighborhood in upper Manhattan, where he rose in the ranks of local politics.

“I’m feeling something painful in my heart right now. I’m feeling like a loss and an emptiness because he’s gone,” an emotional New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday. “But I also really feel his guidance still, his presence. And we’re going to keep going, we’re going to continue his fight.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James, Governor Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were among the many others paying tribute to Dinkins.

“For decades, Mayor Dinkins led with compassion and an unparalleled commitment to our communities,” James said in a statement. “New York will mourn Mayor Dinkins and continue to be moved by his towering legacy.”

“The first and the only Black mayor of NYC, he cherished our “gorgeous mosaic” & served the city & state over a career spanning decades with the hope of unity and a deep kindness,” Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

In Harlem, Dinkins formed part of a group of Black power brokers, known as the “Gang of Four,” that included congressman Charles Rangel, Percy Sutton and Basil Paterson, the father of future New York Governor David Paterson.

Dinkins defeated the three-term incumbent Democrat Mayor Ed Koch in the primary and then Republican prosecutor Rudy Giuliani in the 1989 mayoral race.

Giuliani, who would come back to defeat Dinkins four years later, was among the first to pay tribute.

“I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mayor David Dinkins, and to the many New Yorkers who loved and supported him,” Giuliani said on Twitter. “He gave a great deal of his life in service to our great City.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recognized the former mayor’s achievements in a statement on Tuesday. “Winning his election against all odds, he showed us what was possible at a time when opportunities were limited.”

New York, during Dinkins’ term, was battling high crime, a fierce economic recession and the AIDS epidemic.

But it was his role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot that would most define his mayoralty.

The riot was sparked in the racially divided Brooklyn neighborhood by the acquittal of a young black man, Lemrick Nelson, in the killing of Yankel Rosenbaum, a 29-year-old Jewish student.

Speaking in 2011, Dinkins remembered his handling of the riot as one of his chief regrets.

“The thing that hurt the most, I suppose, was to be accused by some of permitting – holding the police back – and permitting young blacks to attack Jews,” Dinkins said, according to the New York Times.

“And this was untrue, inaccurate and not so, and that’s kind of painful. But if I had it to do over again, I would have said maybe 24 hours earlier to the police, ‘What you’re doing isn’t working,’ which I finally said.”

(Reporting by Derek Francis; additional reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru and Maria Caspani in New York; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bill Berkrot)

Wall Street veteran Ray McGuire to run for New York mayor

By Noor Zainab Hussain and Imani Moise

(Reuters) – Ray McGuire, one of the senior-most Black executives on Wall Street, is leaving his job at Citigroup Inc to run for mayor of New York in 2021, his spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Although McGuire is a longshot in the race, a successful candidacy would make him only the second Black mayor of America’s largest city, after David Dinkins’ stint as New York mayor in the 1990s.

“It is correct that he is exploring a run for mayor … he has taken the first step in doing that, which is that he has filed with the Campaign Finance Board in New York City,” the spokeswoman said.

Current Mayor Bill de Blasio will step down after his current term, as city laws prevent him from seeking a third term.

Citi’s chief executive, Michael Corbat, told employees that McGuire will leave the bank after 15 years in various roles to pursue his “lifelong passion for public service,” according to a memo seen by Reuters.

McGuire headed Citi’s corporate and investment banking unit for 13 years and was most recently also chairman of banking, capital markets and advisory. Prior to Citi, 63-year-old McGuire was at Morgan Stanley.

The move into politics for McGuire, who until recently held the title of vice chairman at Citi, comes after he was on a short list of candidates to head the New York Federal Reserve in 2018.

McGuire is not the first Wall Street executive to dabble in politics. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg was New York mayor from 2001-2013, and Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is the current governor of New Jersey.

The New York Times first reported McGuire’s decision to run for mayor earlier on Thursday.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Imani Moise in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Lauren Tara LaCapra and Steve Orlofsky)

New York City ‘almost to point’ of recommending ‘shelter-in-place’ to Governor, NYC Mayor says

(Reuters) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Wednesday that he was “almost to the point” of recommending to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the city implement a ‘shelter-in-place’ policy that would have people stay in their homes.

“We have a little bit more we have to make sense of — how we are going to get people food and medicine,” de Blasio told NBC’s “TODAY” morning show, adding that he would only make that decision in consultation with the state. “But I have to say it has to be considered seriously starting today.”

(reporting by Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut, Editing by Franklin Paul)

New York to install 1,500 more sidewalk barriers after vehicle attacks

Additional bollards are seen on sidewalks and plazas to protect pedestrians in Times Square, New York City, New York, U.S., January 2, 2018.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City will install more than 1,500 new barrier posts on sidewalks and plazas to protect pedestrians from vehicles after at least two instances last year of drivers killing people after mounting the curb, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

The thin, cylindrical, waist-height metal bollards are intended to be a more attractive alternative to the hulking concrete blocks the New York Police Department had deposited in busier areas around the city following the vehicle attacks, de Blasio said.

“We understand what’s happening around the world and we even saw some tragedies here,” the mayor said at a Times Square announcement in front of a line of the posts. Similar bollards were installed in Times Square in 2016.

There has been a spate of attacks on pedestrians in European and U.S. cities by people using cars or trucks, a tactic that the Islamic State militant group encourages its supporters to use. In July 2016, a driver used a truck to kill 86 people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. Similar carnage unfolded at a Christmas market in Berlin a few months later.

De Blasio spoke within sight of the place where an intoxicated man in May steered a car along sidewalks for three city blocks, killing a young woman and injuring at least 22 people.

Last November, a man was charged with murder and providing support to Islamic State after he plowed down people on a Manhattan bike lane the previous month, killing eight.

“We know we have to do even more to keep people safe,” de Blasio said on Tuesday. The city will spend an additional $50 million on installing the new bollards in busy, high-profile areas and other efforts to protect public spaces, the mayor said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Frances Kerry)

Child playing with stove may have started deadly N.Y. fire, mayor says

Fire Department of New York (FDNY) personnel work on the scene of an apartment fire in Bronx, New York, U.S., December 28, 2017.

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Mayor Bi A child playing with a stove may have caused the fire in a New York City apartment building that killed 12 people, including four children, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday.

People react near the scene of an apartment fire in Bronx, New York, U.S., December 29, 2017.

People react near the scene of an apartment fire in Bronx, New York, U.S., December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

The fire, the deadliest in the city in a quarter of a century, broke out a little before 7 p.m. EST (midnight GMT) on Thursday on the first floor of a brick building and quickly spread upstairs, killing people on multiple floors, the New York City Fire Department said.

A crowd gathers as New York Fire Department personnel fight a fire in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, in this still image taken from a December 28, 2017 social media video.

A crowd gathers as New York Fire Department personnel fight a fire in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, in this still image taken from a December 28, 2017 social media video. Francesca Rosales/via REUTERS

“What we think at this point is that unfortunately it emanated from an accident, a young child playing with a stove on the first floor of the building,” de Blasio said in an interview with WNYC radio.

Children ages 1, 2 and 7 died along with four men and four women, local media reported. An unidentified boy also died.

Authorities said firefighters rescued 12 people from the building and four people were in the hospital in critical condition. More than 160 firefighters responded to the four-alarm blaze.

The building, with 26 apartments, has at least six open building code violations, according to city records. One violation was for a broken smoke detector in an apartment on the first floor, reported in August. It was not clear if the detector had been fixed or replaced or whether it had played any role in the fire.

“I know there were concerns raised about the building itself,” de Blasio told WNYC. “Based on the research we have at this moment, it does not appear there was anything problematic about the building or the fire safety in the building.”

The building is in the Belmont section of the Bronx, a primarily residential, close-knit neighborhood known as the “Little Italy” of the borough, near Fordham University and the Bronx Zoo.

It was the deadliest fire in the city since an arsonist torched a Bronx nightclub in 1990, killing 87 people inside the venue that did not have fire exits, alarms or sprinklers, the New York Times reported.

In 2007 10 immigrants from Mali, including nine children, died after a space heater caught fire in a Bronx building.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen, Stephanie Kelly and Dan Trotta in New York, Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Ankara mayor quits in Erdogan purge of local government

Turkey's ruling AK Party (AKP) mayoral candidate and current Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek (C) attends an event as part of his election campaign in Ankara March 18, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ANKARA (Reuters) – The mayor of Ankara said on Monday he will step down this week, the fifth mayor from the ruling party to quit in recent weeks in the face of demands for a purge of local politics by President Tayyip Erdogan.

Melih Gokcek, a staunch Erdogan loyalist who has been mayor of Ankara for 23 years and won five consecutive elections, said on Twitter on Monday that he would leave office on Saturday, after meeting with Erdogan at the presidential palace.

Four other mayors from the ruling party have already stepped down in recent weeks, including Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbas, following demands that they resign from Erdogan, who says he is seeking a renewal of his ruling AK Party.

“Three mayors from our party have handed in their resignations so far, and there are three more. I believe they will hand theirs in as soon as possible,” Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara last week before Gokcek and one other mayor resigned.

Erdogan decision to target the mayors follows his narrow victory in a referendum to grant himself sweeping powers last year, which was more popular with rural than urban voters. Seventeen of the country’s 30 largest cities voted against it.

Since then, Erdogan has spoken of the need for renewal in local government and the ruling AK Party, citing signs of “metal fatigue” within administrations.

Gokcek, generally regarded as a staunch Erdogan loyalist, is well known in Turkey for tweets in which he has engaged in spats with journalists and with other senior members of the AKP.

In February he suggested the U.S.-based cleric blamed by Erdogan for a failed coup last year might be plotting an earthquake, with the help of foreign powers.

 

(Writing by Ece Toksabay; editing by Peter Graff)

 

Minneapolis police chief resigns after Australian woman’s shooting

FILE PHOTO: Minneapolis Chief of Police Janee Harteau takes part in a round table discussion on ways to reduce gun violence during a visit to the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. on February 4, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

By Eric M. Johnson

(Reuters) – Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau resigned on Friday at the request of the city’s mayor, who said that she and the community had lost confidence in Harteau following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman.

The death of Sydney native Justine Damond, 40, from a single gunshot wound to the abdomen fired through the open window of a police patrol car, has outraged her family members and the Australian public. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called it “shocking” and “inexplicable.”

Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a written statement that she and Harteau agreed on Friday that Harteau would step aside.

“I’ve lost confidence in the Chief’s ability to lead us further – and from the many conservations I’ve had with people around our city, especially this week, it is clear that she has lost the confidence of the people of Minneapolis as well,” Hodges said in the statement.

A press conference Hodges called to discuss the personnel change was interrupted by a group of protesters calling for her to resign, a witness video posted on YouTube showed.

“We don’t want you as our mayor of Minneapolis anymore,” a male protester in the video yelled as Hodges nodded slowly and tried repeatedly to resume her remarks but was drowned out.

“Your leadership has been very ineffective. Your police department has terrorized us enough,” he said.

Damond, who was living in Minneapolis and engaged to be married, had called police about a possible sexual assault in her neighborhood just before midnight on Saturday. She was shot as she approached the driver’s side of Mohamed Noor’s and Matthew Harrity’s patrol car.

Harteau’s resignation came a day after she told reporters during her first news conference following Damond’s death that the shooting violated department training and procedures and that the victim “didn’t have to die.”

“Last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection,” she said in a statement. “Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the city, I have to put the communities we serve first.”

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Harrity told investigators that Damond approached the squad car immediately after he was startled by a loud noise and that Noor, who was in the passenger seat, fired his weapon through the open driver’s-side window, striking Damond.

Noor has refused to be interviewed by the agency, which is conducting the investigation.

The police department said on Friday that bureau investigators had interviewed a person who was bicycling in the area immediately before the shooting and watched as the officers provided medical assistance to Damond. No further details were provided.

Hodges said Assistant Chief Medaria Arradondo would become police chief, and the department’s website on Friday evening had been updated to reflect it.

Harteau, a 30-year veteran of the department, was the first woman to lead it and is also openly gay. She was criticized for the department’s handling of the fatal 2015 shooting of 24-year-old black man Jamar Clark, who was unarmed.

The shooting of Clark touched off protests in Minneapolis at a time of fierce national debate over the use of excessive force by police, especially against black people.

Hundreds of people also took to the streets of Minneapolis to protest Damond’s shooting.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler & Shri Navaratnam)

New York mayor criticized for proposed limits on legal aid to immigrants

People rally on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan, New York, U.S., May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City public defenders on Thursday criticized a proposal by Mayor Bill de Blasio to deny free legal counsel to immigrants in deportation hearings if they had been convicted of serious crimes in the past, saying the plan would deny them due process.

In his proposed annual budget, De Blasio allocated $16.4 million to legal services for immigrant New Yorkers, citing concern about U.S. President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants living in the country illegally.

Lawyers, local lawmakers and civil rights activists welcomed the funding proposal, which sharply increases legal aid for immigrants. But they gathered on the steps of City Hall to criticize a provision they said would unfairly deprive some people of the right to due process under the law.

De Blasio’s proposal would deny city-funded lawyers to immigrants previously convicted of one of 170 crimes that the city considers serious or violent.

Jennifer Friedman, who runs the immigration practice at Bronx Defenders, said the mayor’s plan would create a “two-tier system that treats people different based on their criminal history.”

The funding be in addition to the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), which has been funded by the City Council since 2013 and provides free lawyers to immigrants facing deportation hearings at the federal immigration court.

In the United States, the right to a lawyer does not extend to federal immigration hearings which are civil, not criminal, proceedings.

The plan contradicted de Blasio’s description of New York as a “sanctuary city” for immigrants, the public defenders said.

Seth Stein, a City Hall spokesman, wrote in an email that “the public should not be expected to foot the bill” for immigrants convicted of dangerous crimes. “The vast majority of immigrants have not been convicted of violent crimes,” he wrote.

More than 2,000 immigrants have received free lawyers under the council-funded program, which provides free lawyers regardless of an immigrant’s criminal record, in the four years since it began, Legal Aid said.

In New York City, immigrants without lawyers managed to overturn a removal order in court only 3 percent of the time, while those with lawyers were able to remain in the country 30 percent of the time, Legal Aid said.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Cynthia Osterman)

New York City mayor says ‘affordability crisis’ threatens city

New York Mayor

By Hilary Russ

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York City is threatened by an “affordability crisis” because rising housing prices have significantly outpaced wage growth, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday.

De Blasio used his state of the city address to speak broadly about New Yorkers’ struggles to pay rent and make ends meet and discussed recent proposals, rather than lay out many new proposals.

De Blasio, a Democrat who took office in January 2014, is up for reelection in November.

Held at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, home to numerous American musical legends including Billie Holiday, the program featured at least 45 minutes of introductory remarks that were a mostly a love story to the city’s diversity.

“So many people in this city are afraid they cannot stay in the city that they love,” because of high costs, de Blasio said.

De Blasio cited a long list of what he considers some of his biggest accomplishments, including the implementation of neighborhood policing and the highest ever four-year high-school graduation rate of 72.6 percent in 2016.

He said residents would hear in coming weeks more details of forthcoming proposals about homelessness, opioid addiction and the creation of more higher paying jobs, which he called the “next frontline.”

He said the city would strive to create 100,000 more permanent good jobs that pay at least $50,000 a year.

Last week, de Blasio released information about other proposals that he touched on in his speech, including ways to help seniors and low-income people afford housing by adding new units and providing more rental assistance.

He said previously that he would seek to add 10,000 apartments for households earning less than $40,000 a year, half of which would be reserved for seniors, while another 500 would be for veterans.

De Blasio referenced another element of the plan announced last week to help more than 25,000 older residents with rent of up to $1,300 a month through the city’s “mansion tax,” which he has proposed before.

“You will hear people say it cannot be done,” de Blasio said of the tax. “They will say you cannot get it through Albany,” using the state capital to refer to the state government, whose approval would be required for the tax.

The mansion tax would bring in $336 million on the sale of homes over $2 million, he said.

“We’re not going to give tax breaks to people doing well,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to ask them to do more.”

(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Leslie Adler)