Mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner came under intense fire for comparing the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactic to the racial extermination of Jews by Nazi Germany, as a pair of contradicting polls show him leading the Democratic field or in second place.
“Last year, more than 700,000 in New York were stopped — the overwhelming majority of them were young men of color. Ninety-seven percent of them did nothing wrong,” Weiner told the largely black church in Staten Island Sunday. “And the mayor stood up and said, ‘Wait a minute, statistically this’ and ‘statistically that.’ Well, you can have 100 percent statistical reduction in crime if you stop everybody.”
“You could have 1938 Germany,” Weiner said, “because everyone has to show their papers.”
That comparison of a tactic Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and, in some polls, a majority of New Yorkers agree with, to Nazi laws that degenerated into genocide infuriated many.
“His comments were shocking and disgraceful … [and] he should apologize,” said State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn). “Anyone who uses the Holocaust frivolously diminishes the tragedy that occurred. Weiner clearly stepped over the line.”
“No one should be comparing New York City in 2013 to 1938 Germany,” said mayoral rival Christine Quinn, the city council speaker. “It’s an absurd statement, it’s an offensive statement, and he should apologize for suggesting it.”
“If Anthony Weiner can’t tell the difference between 1938 Germany and 2013 New York City, how on earth can we trust him to keep the city safe?” questioned Sal Albanese, a former city councilman running for mayor. “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.”
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio slammed Weiner’s remarks as “offensive rhetoric.”
Stung by the criticism, the Weiner campaign on Wednesday sought to tamp down the comments.
“The context of the reference was the argument made by some that stopping innocent citizens was an acceptable cost for public safety,” Weiner spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said. “He clearly was not equating 1938 Nazi Germany to New York City.”
Twin polls out this week show various signals of Weiner’s comeback success. A Quinnipiac survey shows Weiner on top with 25 percent, followed by Quinn with 22 percent. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former city comptroller Bill Thompson and current comptroller John Liu are bunched together at about 11 percent.
But a New York Times/Siena College poll released late Wednesday shows Quinn firmly on top of the pack, with Quinn’s support at 27 percent, compared to Wiener’s 18 percent.
It appears from the accompanying tables that the Siena poll is weighted toward younger voters, giving Quinn an advantage.
In the Republican primary, the Siena poll has Joe Lhota at 32 percent, to John Catsimatidis’s 21 percent.