2003-07-31 / From The Mayor...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

From The Mayor’s Desk...

Remembering Councilmember James Davis

Last Wednesday, City Councilman James Davis of Brooklyn was assassinated by an angry and deeply troubled individual in the balcony of the Council Chambers at City Hall. It was an assault on our democracy, and an appalling loss for Councilman Davis’s family. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, colleagues and constituents. The day after the shooting,

I visited the Councilman’s district office in Fort Greene, and I was tremendously impressed with the huge display there of flowers, candles and written expressions of sorrow from those he represented-Brooklyn residents of every race. It was a moving testament to the positive impact that Councilman Davis had made in his still-young life.

A former New York City police officer, Councilman Davis’s political mantra was "stop the violence." On the day he perished, an officer he served with in the ranks of the NYPD-Police Officer Richard Burt-showed extraordinary bravery and skill in stopping the violence that took James Davis before it destroyed anyone else.

Davis’s assassin struck just as a full Council meeting was about to begin; the chambers were filled with the Council’s members, as well as scores of spectators and guests, including many small children. When the gunfire erupted, an understandably chaotic situation ensued. In the midst of that turbulence, Officer Burt, a nine-year veteran, calmly and heroically put himself in harm’s way. He fired his gun from the Council floor-a distance of some 45 feet -mortally wounding the councilman’s assailant without harming anyone else. Although Councilman Davis’s killer had discharged the entire magazine of his gun, it was later discovered that he had brought more bullets with him, so Officer Burt almost surely prevented further bloodshed on that terrible day. For his quick and courageous action, and because we’re confident he’ll continue to distinguish himself in protecting our city, he has received a well-deserved promotion to the rank of detective.

Unaware that his killer had marked him for death, Councilman Davis actually escorted him into City Hall as a guest, and neither man passed through the metal detectors that are posted outside the building. For many years, we have extended that courtesy to all elected officials, but from now on and without exception, everyone who works at or visits City Hall, including me, will go through the metal detectors.

This was a crime committed in the chamber where New York City’s laws are debated and passed; it was a blow struck in the very heart of our government. It’s an ongoing struggle to find the right balance between operating the open government the people are entitled to while we also protect everyone’s safety. Nothing has highlighted that struggle more than this shocking episode. At City Hall, we’ll find and maintain that balance, so we can continue to do our jobs—working for the people of the greatest city in the world.

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