Archives of Rudolph W. Giuliani

Mayor's WINS Address
Sunday, September 6, 1998

Mourning the Victims of a Tragedy
by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani

Last Wednesday night, New York City, Switzerland, and the world endured a terrible tragedy, the crash of SwissAir flight 111, en route to Geneva from Kennedy International Airport, in the waters off Nova Scotia.

The City sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the 229 people on board the plane - people of every age and profession, and from all over the world. We have done our best to ensure that families in the New York area are given the support, and the privacy, they need at this time, and we will continue to offer our assistance as long as it is needed, including lending all our cooperation to the efforts to determine the cause of the tragedy.

We know how much the victims were loved, and how deeply they loved living in the world. We'll never know the wonderful things that they might have accomplished if they had been able to live full lives. As Harriet Beecher Stowe once wrote, "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone." Our thoughts and prayers are with those who mourn.


On another note, I want to speak for a moment about the march that took place last Saturday in Harlem - the so-called "Million Youth March." From the beginning, the City argued that closing a major city street on Labor Day weekend for a demonstration initially projected to draw one million people, including violent gang members from around the country, could present serious public safety problems.

We went to court not to restrict the expression of the participants, but to require the organizers to make reasonable accommodations that every demonstration of this magnitude is required to make. The court, in turn, imposed, ultimately, fair and reasonable restrictions on the march. The City followed the letter and spirit of the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

But I have also voiced much more fundamental concerns about the destructive and hateful message behind the march. The primary organizer of the event, Khalid Muhammad, is a hatemonger. He is an enemy of peace and coexistence. He calls white people "crackers" and "devils"; he viciously and systematically attacks the Pope, Jews, and lesbians and gay men; he has even supported the murder of innocent people because of the color of their skin.

I believe that this kind of hatred is an imminent threat to good people everywhere. Muhammad's attempt to have our young people march under the banner of hatred should be met with strong opposition, not with the kind of appeasement and equivocation that some politicians have presented.

Consistent with a court order which set reasonable and agreed-upon restrictions on the march, the City let the speakers spout their hatred over loudspeakers, as was required, on a major city street for four hours - and, for this entire period, the New York Police Department showed remarkable restraint, and did an excellent job of keeping order. At 4 p.m., however, when the organizers had not concluded, and indicated, in fact, that they planned to continue in violation of the order of the court, the police stepped in and ended the rally. They were met with thrown chairs, metal barriers, and glass bottles and with people advocating attacking the police and even killing them. The police have already arrested one perpetrator and further arrests will be made.

Our police department showed remarkable restraint. New Yorkers around the city should be proud of their professional and efficient work, and we should be proud, on the whole, of the reaction that the City had to this hate march. Some people, including some politicians, appeased and equivocated rather than confronting the hatred, but the vast majority of New Yorkers united against the intolerance and stood up against the divisiveness, denying these hatemongers the respect they so desperately needed to thrive.

In fact, less than 6,000 people showed up for a march that was supposed to have a million people. The pathetically small showing demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers reject this kind of anti-semitism and hatred. As a result, we can move forward in good faith together, building a stronger and more united city for all of us.

Go to Giuliani Archives | Dept. of Records | Home Page
Contact Us | FAQs | Privacy Statement | Site Map