To the editor:
(re: “Let’s address controversial arrest,” March 22)
I don’t typically respond to every letter or Op-Ed that mentions my name in a critical way. However, I am obliged to correct the incontrovertible falsehood that was mentioned in Jennifer Scarlott’s recent Op-Ed.
In her piece, she states that I was unconcerned about Deputy Inspector Terence O’Toole’s comments after the arrest of Alfred Burns, and that I refused to speak with the deputy inspector about the incident in question.
This is simply untrue, and in fact, is the opposite of what I told her and the other two members of the North Bronx Racial Justice Coalition on Dec. 19, 2017, in a meeting held at their request, and which took place in my district office.
I remember quite clearly what was discussed and what I said, as I tend to choose my words carefully. Since Ms. Scarlott either doesn’t remember what I said, or is deliberately misrepresenting my words to fit her narrative, let me reiterate publicly what I said in this private meeting.
I told her, “I would not have chosen those words,” referring to the language used by Deputy Inspector O’Toole regarding Alfred Burns. The three members of the North Bronx Racial Justice Coalition asked me to speak to Deputy Inspector O’Toole and tell him this fact, and I did so when I saw him at a Community Board 8 meeting.
We live in a time where facts are being neglected or ignored, and where divisive rhetoric is polarizing us in unprecedented numbers. The issue of police conduct is a serious one, and distortions of reality by anyone only make a difficult conversation even harder.
Division may serve the political needs of some people, but it does not serve the community at large. Regardless of my opinion on whether Deputy Inspector O’Toole’s remarks were what I might have said in a similar situation, we are fortunate to have a commanding officer of the 50th Precinct who clearly cares about hearing what the community has to say, does not shy away from difficult questions or public scrutiny, and who has done a terrific job for the people of our community.
The author is the Assembly representative for the 81st District.