Friday, June 27, 2008

Are We Racist? /NYCDOG in League with PEP

On June 6 we reported that Commissioner Benepe was supposed to speak the following day at some off-leash gathering at Prospect Park. It turns out that the gathering was a celebration of the first anniversary of the off-leash rules (if we were Palestinian, we’d call it the nakba). We don’t know if the Commissioner showed up, but one of his deputies, a gentleman named Kevin E. Jeffrey did. The pictures are here. (Go ahead: read the rest of the website and the links from it. We’ve addressed some of their nonsensical contentions and we’ll be addressing what they say in future posts.) First, observe the pictures of the gathering and compare them with the other pictures on the website. It is striking that (1) Assistant Commissioner Jeffrey and the head of PEP, Mike Dockett, are black; (2) of the several black people in the picture of the gathering, only one appears to even possibly be a dog owner, and (3) in all of the other many pictures on the website, the only black face is that of Mike Dockett. Were Benepe, by sending Jeffrey, and the photographer, by seemingly finding what were perhaps the only black faces on the Long Meadow, trying to counter what we’ve been saying?

Incidentally, we seem to have picked up some readers who while not pro-leash at least have an open mind. Does our pointing out things like this make us racist? It depends on what you mean. Is someone who observes the relative number of blacks and whites stopped by police on the highway; notes that the percentage of blacks stopped is much higher than that of whites; and suggests that the disparity is deliberate, a racist? That’s just what we’re doing. We are documenting that the overwhelming majority of dog owners who let their dogs run unleashed are white; that a majority of park users, at least in Prospect Park, are non-white people; and suggesting that this disparity may be part of a plan to bring more white people and fewer black people into the parks. If this makes us racist, so be it.

Also, look at the third picture down, showing a bunch of dog owners flanked by two smiling, uniformed PEP officers and a sign, “NYCDOG”. By now, there should be no question that statements on NYCDOG's website that "the solution [to owners' letting their dogs off-leash illegally] is to stiffen enforcement of the rules", that "Off-leash dog owner groups . . .try to self-police Off-leash Hours" and that the "various groups that comprise the Off-leash movement are strongly in favor of stiffer fines . . . and strong enforcement of the laws" is pious blather: to take just one small sample, we've observed a majority of dog owners who use the Peninsula Meadow dog run letting their dogs run loose before they get to the Peninsula, after they leave it, or both. And we pointed out that one owner who was letting his dog wander--and harrass passers-by--along Wellhouse Road looked like the president of FIDO. And no PEP agents are ever there to stop them. If there’s any better proof than this photograph that PEP is in league with the people they’re supposed to be regulating and has no intention of enforcing what’s left of the leash law in the City’s parks, we don’t what it could be.

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Prospect Park, 4 P.M.: 4 unleashed dogs in and around dog beach. A cop drove by and did not stop. Also, 4: 15 P.M., 2 unleashed dogs on Nethermead. All dog owners were white.

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