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Weiner takes heat at Laurelton mayoral forum

Candidates (l.-r.) Bill de Blasio, Tony Gronowicz, George McDonald and Anthony Weiner participate at a mayoral forum in Laurelton. Photos by Rich Bockmann
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Stop-and-frisk and — you guessed it — former Queens U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner dominated the discussion at a mayoral forum in Laurelton last week.

Drawing a noisy gaggle of reporters and campaign supporters along as he walked into the Seventh-day Adventist Church about half an hour late, the sext scandal-plagued Democrat proclaimed he was there to talk about the issues, and it was the media making a circus of the event.

“They stopped me outside and said, ‘Weiner, will you do us a favor and talk to us now before you go inside?’ and I said, ‘Uh-uh. If you’re going to come out here to southeast Queens, you’re going to hear what these people have to say,’” he told the crowd of nearly 200 attendees at the forum sponsored by the Concerned Citizens of Laurelton.

It did not take long for Weiner’s critics to go on the attack.

“There are some people here that work in public service and I commend them. And then there are others that do self-service and I believe we just heard from one of them,” said Republican candidate George McDonald, who went on to call Weiner a “self-pleasuring freak,” eliciting boos from the crowd.

After city Comptroller John Liu took a shot at Weiner, the forum’s moderator, Pastor Warner Richards, admonished the dais.

“This is a hot button and this is very emotional. However, we ask all the candidates to respect each other,” he said. “Please keep this at a high level. We want to talk about the issues. We have to respect the church.”

“Then don’t have it in a church,” Bishop Charles Norris, of the Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, could be overheard speaking to a neighbor sitting behind him in the pews.

The biggest issue of focus was stop-and-frisk, and on that topic Liu and city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio stood out.

“Even amongst Democrats there are real disagreements on this issue,” said de Blasio, who favors replacing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and anti-profiling legislation currently in the hands of the City Council. “If we can’t pass this legislation in New York City and override the mayor’s veto, how are we going to tell our children that racial profiling is not acceptable in New York City?”

If the frequency and volume of applause meant anything, it is possible Liu was the crowd’s favorite candidate. He gained large support when he spoke of reforming schools, raising the minimum wage and, of course, stop-and-frisk.

“The next mayor has to change things so that government ... is not only uplifting people, but not taking them down time and time again. I believe that we can keep people in this city safe and we can keep crime low without humiliating hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young people of color, who almost always have done nothing wrong,” he said. “It’s time to end — not mend — it’s time to end stop-and-frisk once and for all.”

Sal Albanese said he was opposed to stop-and-frisk, and went on to say he finds it “obscene” that rank-and-file officers were being demonized.

“The last couple of weeks the rhetoric has gotten so heated when we compare New York City police officers to Nazis,” he said. “We compare police officers to vigilantes like George Zimmerman in Florida.”

McDonald said he already had a “national expert on community policing” in line to replace Kelly should he be elected.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 7:48 pm, August 8, 2013
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