Photo: AP

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, a despotic thug who owes his enduring fame to an accident of history, reminded Americans in an appearance on “Face the Nation,” that the real problem in African-American communities is not systemic racism or police brutality, but black-on-black violence.

“If you want to protect black lives, then you’ve got to protect black lives not just against police,” Giuliani said. “They sing rap songs about killing police officers, and they talk about killing police officers, and they yell it out at their rallies and the police officers hear it.” (Who are “they?”) The phrase “black lives matter,” he continued, is inherently racist: “Black lives matter. White lives matter. Asian lives matter. Hispanic lives matter. That’s anti-American, and it’s racist.”

“If I were a black father and I was concerned about the safety of my child, really concerned about it and not in a politically activist sense, I would say be very respectful to the police, most of them are good, some can be very bad and just be very careful,” he continued. “I’d also say be very careful of those kids in the neighborhood, don’t get involved with them because son, there’s a 99 percent chance they’re going to kill you—not the police,” he added. Where this particular statistic comes from he did not say.

Giuliani, of course, knows from racist police. Following the 1999 shooting death of unarmed African immigrant Amadou Diallo by four members of the NYPD’s elite Street Crimes unit, the federal government opened an inquiry into the department’s police tactics. In 2000, the Department of Justice announced its finding that the unit had engaged in a pattern of racial profiling. “There is no racial profiling in the New York City Police Department,” Giuliani said. “We will fight this case anywhere.”

Towards the end of his administration, terrorists attacked New York City, flying a pair of jetliners into the Twin Towers. Many police officers died responding to the attacks, and wave of solidarity swept over the city—even in black neighborhoods that had, for decades previous, been subject to oppressive policing.

It didn’t last long. As Peter Noel reported in November 2001 for the Village Voice:

Gangbangers, blow dealers, skeezers, and stragglers openly bonded with the Five-O. Some drank from the same beer cans as the undercover DTs, and snitched voluntarily on their counterparts in the name of fighting crime. Outcries against racial profiling—echoes from protests over the killing of Amadou Diallo—were smothered in the glad-handing and warm embraces.

But now it appears that some officers have been exploiting the hero worship of the NYPD by waging vicious attacks on members of the suspect class. Civil rights watchdogs claim that complaints about menacing cops, beatings, and wrongful arrests are mounting. “Our files are bulging with charges of police brutality that occurred after September 11,” says J.D. Livingstone, who advised Anderson, Jones, and the Thompsons to file grievances with the CCRB and Internal Affairs. As Benét bewailed, for those who still bear the scars inflicted by the skillfull boys, “We thought we were done with these things, but we were wrong.”

“I believe I saved a lot more black lives than Black Lives Matter,” Giuliani said during an appearance on Fox News on Monday morning. “I don’t see what Black Lives Matter is doing for blacks other than isolating them.”