Candid Talk // Bernard Kerik speaks his mind about the implosion of New York City

One of the most outspoken critics of Mayor Bill de Blasio is none other than former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who served in that position during the 9/11 attacks and became an American hero as he led the department through its rescue and recovery efforts. Among other honors for meritorious and heroic service, he was awarded the prestigious Medal of Valor and was nominated by President George W. Bush to head the Department of Homeland Security in 2004.

I previously spoke with Mr. Kerik after the release of his book, From Jailer to Jailed: My Journey from Correction and Police Commissioner to Inmate #84888-054. Convicted of tax fraud and making false statements in 2007, Mr. Kerik was sentenced to four years in federal prison. As we sat together in his comfy home in New Jersey, he candidly shared with me the story of his fall from grace and the effects his incarceration had on his views of the American justice system, and that he has become a strong advocate for criminal justice reform ever since his release from prison in 2013. He was pardoned in February of this year by President Trump.

The last time we met, Mr. Kerik told me that he had deep ties with many members of the Orthodox Jewish community. More recently, his son Joseph, 34, a Newark detective assigned to a federal task force, was part of the small army of cops that rushed to respond to the JC Kosher Supermarket shooting in Jersey City, something that Mr. Kerik senior said that he was very proud of.

I recently spoke to him about the chaos that has engulfed the City of New York in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. His candor was once again matchless.

You’ve been very outspoken about the difficulties New York City is going through.
New York City has major issues. It has problems with its leadership as well as with security. I sincerely believe that the city is imploding. I also believe that it’s intentional on the mayor’s part.

Why would the mayor be interested in causing this great city to go to the dogs?

It’s not so much his interest as his ideology. De Blasio is an admitted Marxist and he believes in socialism. He supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua in 1987, so he’s been doing this for a long time. For the past six years he’s been relatively quiet, but in the aftermath of George Floyd he’s using this false narrative about police brutality and racism to create division and hurt the city. What happened to George Floyd was murder. What happened to him shouldn’t have happened, but it didn’t happen in New York City. It had nothing to do with New York City.

Over the past two decades there’s been a steady decline in the use of force by the NYPD as well as police-involved fatalities, yet all of a sudden he’s using George Floyd as an excuse to allow the anarchists to destroy the city. He basically handcuffed the police, instructing them to use a “light touch” in dealing with the protests, even though he knew that the majority of the protestors were violent anarchists. It defies logic and common sense. It also defies sound management and history, because we know how to make New York City secure. De Blasio has gone against every principle that has been proven to work. As a result, there are more shootings, a higher rate of violent crime and murder, a decrease in income and lower real estate values. There is no other choice but to conclude that it’s intentional, because he’s not a stupid man.

I’ve spoken to the mayor in the past, and I must say that I’m shocked by his irrational behavior. He recently said that he’d like to use vacant buildings for the homeless, turning the city into an enlarged homeless shelter.
He’s already doing it on the Upper West Side, where the homeless are being shoved into gorgeous boutique hotels that are empty because everyone is scared to death to come to the city. There are probably 10,000 beds on Rikers Island and only 3,000 of them are in use. If he needs somewhere to put them, why aren’t they there?

You’re saying that he’s deliberately appropriating luxury buildings and hotels and using them as a way of creating a socialist society, taking from the wealthy and giving to the poor.
That’s exactly right. That’s what he wants. He wants government control. He wants the government to be responsible for everything, and he admits that he wants the president to give him billions of dollars as a bailout. But New York City is his responsibility! It’s not the responsibility of the governor or the federal government. De Blasio has completely failed to live up to his responsibility, and now he wants everyone else to help him. And what does he want to do with the money? He wants to create more social programs and even more dependency on the government. The biggest thing we did under Giuliani’s administration was to create independence by getting people to go to work. We had 600,000 fewer people on welfare when Giuliani left office, and this guy is putting them all back.

Governor Cuomo threatened to replace him at the beginning of this George Floyd thing, but he never followed through on it. What do you propose as a solution?

The solution is for the governor to do his job, but the problem is that he doesn’t have the courage to do it. There is no doubt that he should have removed de Blasio for cause, for failing to secure the city and allow the police department to do its job. The citizens of New York City aren’t safe now because of his lack of leadership. The governor should have removed him, but he’s not going to do it because he wants to run for president the next time around, and he wants the radical left-wing vote. If he targets de Blasio, he’s never going to get it.

Do you really think that the radical left is backing de Blasio? Because it seems as if he’s antagonized almost every constituency there is.

He has, but he’s still much closer to the radical left than any other constituency. Just look at the whole Black Lives Matter mural thing. First of all, anyone who knows anything about Black Lives Matter and has done even minimal research knows that they’re affiliated with domestic terrorists. No one knows that better than de Blasio, because he was around during the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s. He looks up to people like Susan Rosenberg and Joanne Chesimard. Joanne Chesimard is a convicted cop killer who is still in hiding in Cuba. She escaped from the authorities in New Jersey after killing a state trooper and was involved in several bombings in the tristate area. Susan Rosenberg was convicted for possessing 700 pounds of explosives and is now one of the primary fundraisers for Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is nothing more than an extension of the Black Liberation Army, the Black Panther Party, the Weather Underground and the United Freedom Front. That’s who these people are, and de Blasio is supporting them.

It must be especially painful for people like you and Mayor Giuliani to watch something you helped construct be destroyed in front of your eyes. Do you feel as if all your efforts are going down the drain?

Yes. Of course. The problem is that many people, especially millennials, weren’t around in those days, so they don’t have any historical context. They have no idea what the city used to be like. They don’t remember when there were 2,200 murders a year. But for someone like me or Giuliani or others who lived through those times, we know how bad it was, and we also know that it’s fixable. We know that with the right leadership, New York City can be changed. It can be cleaned up, it can be made safe and it can prosper. Without that leadership, it’s never going to happen.

Having served as commissioner of the NYPD, I’m sure you still have your finger of the pulse of what’s going on. How do the rank and file feel watching criminals who despise them take over the city they’re trying to protect?

From their perspective, it’s demoralizing and shameful. Bill de Blasio hates the men and women of the NYPD, despite what he may say. Even his wife will tell you that. She has stated publicly that in her opinion, New York City would be euphoria without the NYPD. That’s a heck of a statement coming from the wife of the mayor of New York City.

His relationship with the NYPD was never good, even if his antagonism wasn’t as blatant.
That’s because he hates them. He doesn’t like the NYPD.

Are you in touch with the present police commissioner and other top brass of the NYPD?

I don’t talk to [Commissioner] Shea routinely, but I’m in touch with him. I’m also in touch with everyone who worked for me and is still on the force. I also talk to people on the federal level. I know all these people.

What’s the consensus?

The city is imploding, it’s unsafe, and there’s going to be a mass exodus.

You’ve been very outspoken about the problem. What have you been doing about finding a solution?

Well, there’s not much we can do without removing the mayor. He’s the one who is ultimately responsible for the city. But I would urge the president of the United States not to give New York City that bailout money. Instead, I would urge him to go to the governor and make him do his job and remove de Blasio from office. There is plenty of justification for his removal. That’s one of the things that can be done. The other, which is something that both I and Giuliani do, involves educating the American people. People have no idea what socialism is and how it works. Just talk to any Soviet Jew who is now living in the United States. They’re completely panic-stricken because they’re familiar with this kind of overthrow, and they know that it doesn’t take long for it to happen. We could be a completely different country a year from now if someone doesn’t do something about it.

How does it work?

A theme has to be created to rally around. Antifa and Black Lives Matter have chosen the theme of systemic racism and police brutality. That’s what they are promoting to the American public, but the reality is that their narrative is completely false. There is no systemic racism or police brutality. Just look at the numbers—it doesn’t exist. There are black men and women being systemically slaughtered in places like Chicago and Baltimore, but no one is focused on that because it’s not an issue people will pay attention to or rally around.

George Floyd’s murder wasn’t the first of its kind, but the other cases never triggered anything like this. Do you think it was because of COVID and the lockdown?
No. They’re using COVID as an excuse, but it had absolutely nothing to do with it. That’s nonsense. You just need something to rally around in order to have a revolution. If you go back and look at how the Bolsheviks operated, they picked an issue and generated a lot of hype so people would think there was a major problem. This created mass chaos, which led to violence and then led to an overthrow. That’s exactly what they’re doing now, using George Floyd as the catalyst. That’s all it is.

Do you think it might be a reaction to Donald Trump’s presidency?

No. It has nothing to do with him either. The reason they’re so aggressive right now is that they realize that Donald Trump is probably the only thing standing between good and evil, with the exception of Matt Gates and a few others in Congress. Donald Trump is never going to allow socialism to take hold in this country because he’s not a politician. He doesn’t care about the swamp in Washington. His only concern is America being first, being free and being safe.

The president is a former New Yorker who has a vested interest in the city. He owns prime real estate in Manhattan, and he’s seeing all these neighborhoods becoming ghost towns. This must be very hurtful to him.

It is, but it’s not financial for him. It’s personal, because he knows that it doesn’t have to happen. I put out a tweet recently saying that that’s really the biggest shame. It’s easily fixable—with the right leadership.

Even after all the damage that’s been done?

Of course. All you have to do is give the NYPD the resources it needs to do its job, make sure that laws are in place to hold people accountable for misconduct, engaging in arson and looting, and then get the courts to do their job. That’s it.

People had been leaving the city before the violence because of COVID, moving to their second homes and turning them into their primary residences. That created a vacuum, so a lot of businesses also closed or moved elsewhere.

The COVID movement is temporary. If people had homes in the country, of course they preferred to ride out the lockdown there. But no one is leaving the city permanently because of COVID. They’re leaving the city permanently because they’re scared to death of the crime and the violence.

So you’re saying that once we get the crime under control, all the other problems will go away.

That’s right, and it’s exactly what happened in 1994. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence it would be this: No one wants to live, work or go to school in a city where they aren’t safe. Mothers don’t want to put their babies to bed at night in bathtubs because they’re afraid of random gunfire. No one wants to live like that. If that’s the environment you want to create, then those people who have the ability to leave are going to leave, which is exactly what’s happening.

The message I’m getting is that it’s easy to fix, even though it’s a massive problem.
Yes. All you need is the right leadership, the right laws and the right prosecutors. We’ve warped into a civilization where there are people who are putting hundreds of millions of dollars into state district attorney races so there will be left-wing radical district attorneys in office who won’t pursue charges against real criminals. We’ve seen this in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Atlanta and St. Louis—all over the country. If the state prosecutors won’t target criminality but they will target the police, then something is very wrong. The system is broken.

You said that you’re trying to educate people about socialism, so you’re viewing what’s happening as a revolution. Isn’t that something that’s difficult to reverse?

The trend has to be stopped through the judicial and political systems. There are people in Congress who are supporting this anarchy. There are forces that are pushing us towards Bolshevism, but it can still be stopped. But you need the right leadership to do it.

What can “we the people” do to help?

Stop electing people who don’t belong there! The wrong people are getting into office. Right now we have a presidential nominee and his vice presidential pick who haven’t said one word against Antifa or Black Lives Matter. Why doesn’t anyone think there’s something wrong with that, or not calling out the rioters in Portland and Seattle? They’re tearing down these cities in the name of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, but no one objects or does anything about it. Joe Biden is the head of the Democratic Party. He should be its voice, but he has yet to call for an end to the madness. That’s the most telling part.

Historically, revolutionary movements have been difficult to put down. It may take a whole lot of other things to reverse the trend.
No. It doesn’t take a whole lot of other things; it takes votes. Don’t put these people in office. Learn about the people you’re voting for. You want to live in a safe and secure environment? Then look at the district attorneys you’re supporting. Are they going to aid Black Lives Matter and Antifa, or are they going to support law and order and the Constitution? This isn’t brain surgery. It’s simple stuff.

Meanwhile, New York is throwing out its old members of Congress and putting in progressives. Ilhan Omar just won her primary in Minnesota. It seems as if the leftists are getting stronger, not weaker.

What’s happening now is all due to ignorance. The American people have no understanding of history. Radical left-leaning educators in colleges and institutions have been indoctrinating our kids with their ideology, so they have no knowledge of the past. They have no idea what the Jews went through in the Soviet Union or during the Holocaust because American universities don’t teach it anymore. I couldn’t be more infuriated at the Jews on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side who voted for de Blasio, and they would probably vote for him again if it were possible. Their hatred for Donald Trump is so overwhelming that they’re willing to jeopardize the future of their children and grandchildren just to keep Donald Trump from being in office. I just don’t understand it.

He has certainly been a very good friend to the Jewish people and to Israel.
How do you go against the guy who has done more for the Jewish people worldwide than anyone else?

I don’t know what they’re thinking.

I’m sure you’re familiar with Ami’s poll, which shows that the president has a 91% approval rating in the Orthodox community.

I know, but those Upper East Side and Upper West Side Jews have a phenomenal amount of money; they are extremely wealthy people. They could have a major impact on the national and local elections by putting their money where their mouths are, but they sit back and do nothing. It’s beyond incredible.

Are you going to be out there from now until Election Day to rally the people?

Yes. I lecture and I’m on the networks as often as I can, and my social media platforms are pretty clear. I have to do it, because what we’re witnessing right now is pretty bad.

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