An Awkward Moment With Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

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He's wearing a purple tie today, too!

Well, this is uncomfortable.

About fifteen minutes ago, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was answering questions in former NYC Mayor/Columbia Professor David Dinkins’ SIPA class about urban public policy when a student pulled out a projector and began to screen images of police officers beating civilians on the wall behind Kelly. “We’d like to offer an alternative version,” one slide read.

People started shifting awkwardly in their chairs, then shifting much more awkwardly when the student turned the projector around so that the film was facing Kelly as he continued to speak. Kelly ignored the film, finished answering his question and called on another student, who was interrupted by a young man reading a textbook about military history.

This student stood up and called for Kelly’s resignation. “Are you serious, Kelly?” he asked. “Resign now.” Professor Dinkins sprung up from his chair and instructed the young man to “take it easy.” Several students asked if he was even registered for the course. “No, I go to NYU,” he said. A groan went up and students began asking him to leave.

“Well, this is very intimidating,” Kelly said, grinning.

The NYU student stood up, got his coat and textbook, told the class he’d been arrested three times for “freedom of speech on this land,” and walked out the door.

A few minutes later, another student asked Kelly why most people who are arrested are incarcerated for “drug crimes.” Dinkins said he didn’t understand the question, and things got confrontational between the student, Kelly, and Dinkins pretty quickly. The student’s SIPA colleagues were not pleased—a few students and a TA asked if she was registered for the class. “No,” she said, “but I do have a question.”

Commissioner Kelly, still grinning, leaned over to another guest for today’s class, New York District Attorney Cy Vance, and loudly whispered, “Says something about the security of this school, doesn’t it?”

Kelly got a round of applause as he left the class a half-hour before it ended.

A teach-in with Kyung Ji Rhee, from the Institute of Justice Reform and Alternatives, is planned in the SIPA 4th floor lounge at 6 PM.

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  1. Anonymous

    bravo to the nyu student who stood up and did what all of the frat bros in that class were too scared/numbed to do

  2. Anonymous  

    There are corrupt cops. Kelly is not one of them. In fact, he has done some very commendable things for the city - for example, instructing the entire police force to NOT issue any arrests for marijuana possession. These protestors are protesting the wrong guy.

    • regardless  

      Everyone involved (except the students who asked questions) come off as assholes.

      • Clickit

        Everyone who didn't ask a questions looks like a asshole? Really I thought one of the OWS Goals was right to higher education, couldn't they have waited till after and bitched at him all they want instead of disrupting others... If you disagree with that then guess who looks like a asshole, if you need a hint go look in the mirror.

        • person you'll prob call an asshole next

          I think that any student of public affairs that isn't troubled by a mayor and commissioner acting in violation of the first amendment and a court order IS somewhat of an asshole. Bravo to the kids who had the balls to speak up.

    • Anonymous


    • Uh  

      actually, he's the Commissioner. Anything the NYPD does is ultimately accountable to him. It's not about his personal record.

    • Police Corruption  

      AFTER lawsuits were issued b/c the marijuana enforcement may have broken state law Kelly stopped that practice.
      You do realize there have been more corruption scandals in the NYPD this year then in a long, long time, right?
      The fact that you would say this just shows that you're not even reading the paper!

  3. Anonymous

    Kelly sure has some pair of brass balls to tell another guestthat Columbia's security sucks since all he knowsis to miitarize a civilian police force. does he expect all college security to be like the nypd or the campus police at UC Davis? does he expect college security/police to beat or pepper spray dissenting student? hope Kelly and Bloomberg resign ASAP for being such embarrassments to NYC & its people.

  4. CLS  

    How scary! Students concerned about police brutality and drug arrests (largely of poor people, often as a result of baseless stop and frisks) showing up at Columbia!?
    This institution is supposed to support all questionable NYC policies! They help us with our plan to take over the entire northern part of Manhattan. And police quotas ensure that the privileged students who come to NYC, scared from the change of scenery as compared to private school in Connecticut, or the life of the oligarchy in China and other places, remain comfortable while they are here.

    • Lulzy  

      To judge by the crown on your comment, you're either:

      A) part of the Fifth Column, working to topple this imperialist empire from within


      B) a collaborator, ergo a raging hypocrite

      I'm tending towards the latter.

      - CT Private School-er

    • Anonymous  

      So this is slightly off topic, but you mentioned the "stop-and-frisk" thing. I saw flyers a couple weeks ago protesting it and I'm really confused. The flyers complained that 86% (or something in that vicinity) of the 400k (ish) people who are stopped are innocent. Unless my 3rd-grade math skills have left me, that means upwards of 50,000 people are caught doing something illegal each year through these practices. I would be happy to be stopped for a few minutes myself in order to help catch those 50,000 people.

      • Anonymous  

        86% were not issued a ticket or summons. Many of the remaining 14% were summonsed for things like having their feet up on the seat of a train. Most of the "guilty" people were charged with low level marijuana. So, stop about 183,000 people to catch about 20,000, and a vast majority of those for stuff like open container and small amounts of marijuana in their pocket.
        But, not to worry, only 9% of the people stopped were white, so you don't have to worry about it.

  5. Anonymous  

    BTW, the head of Columbia Security was a really good NYPD cop forced out by authoritarian tactics and BS politics within NYPD itself!
    So that dig really has more meaning! Kelly, makes Giuliani look downright friendly.

  6. hey

    he doesn't even go here, he just has a lot of feelings!

    (about the nypd)

    • CC'14  

      shit! totally wanted to use that.

      but in all seriousness. while the way the student(s) went about it may not have been ideal, I felt very serious issues were raised. even if we say that Kelly himself has not done (or yet been caught doing) injustice to OWS protesters, the fact remains that he IS the commissioner. ultimately he's responsible. to whom else should we direct our concerns? I say good stuff to the dissenting NYU students, dammit. that the SIPA students were so quick to dismiss their points simply because they weren’t Columbians shows a certain vacancy of thought...

  7. Kelly  

    From nypdconfidential

    Up and out. Deputy Chief Jim McShane has called it quits after 24 years in the NYPD, a victim of departmental politics and pettiness.

    A lawyer and a teacher, McShane was considered a rising star until 1996 when, as an inspector, he had the misfortune of organizing the retirement dinner of First Deputy John Timoney. Timoney, in a moment of blinding clarity, passed over for police commissioner by then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for Howard Safir, had called Safir a "lightweight."

    A few months after Timoney's remark and shortly before the dinner, Safir took his revenge. He transferred McShane from the first deputy's office to Manhattan South Narcotics and then to the Traffic Division. He was buried there for the next four years.

    When Kelly became commissioner in 2002, he promoted McShane - who had worked for Kelly in 1992 and '93 when he was commissioner - to deputy chief. But he kept him in traffic another year.

    Last year, Kelly transferred McShane back to Manhattan South Narcotics as executive officer, or No. 2 man. But it was never the same for McShane, whose rehabilitation was too little, too late, observers say. Said a former ranking official: "Here is a case of a man's ability being underutilized."

    McShane's new job is assistant vice president for public safety at Columbia University.

  8. random question  

    what's the average GPA here? i've been wondering that for a while now.

  9. Anonymous

    Why are random students from other colleges without IDs roaming inside Columbia's buildings? This is a huge security risk. This has to stop.

  10. TheWatcher

    I wonder if anyone asked him about the Columbia Five and his hand in that

  11. wizemom  

    Clearly if you aren't enrolled in a class at SIPA your opinion does not count. Another display of self entitled duche-bag bravado. Commisioner Kelly is a Bloomberg goon hired to protect the interests of your rich asshole parents. #OccupySIPA

  12. Anonymous

    First, The entire class format was a Q&A session, if any students, Columbia or otherwise, wanted to ask a well-formed question, they had every opportunity to do that. Maybe then we could have some real dialogue on the matter instead of poorly coordinated charades that distracted everyone from the actual topic. When given a chance to ask their question, the dissenting students could barely do more than utter a string of tired disaffected soundbytes.

    Second, Dinkins was very clear that he has no problem with public dissent and protests, noting that he himself had been arrested multiple times, but that the issue is appropriate timing of dissent. If there was ever a time to simply have a coherent discussion rather than a staged spectacle, it was this class. Sadly the students opted for the latter. If they had thought even slightly strategically about this action, they would have realized how silly it was. It's a perfect forum to discuss the issues - police brutality or otherwise - so why go out of your way to avoid a real discussion???

    • Anonymous

      Because it's silly to pretend any real discussion can happen in a Columbia classroom. You get pat answers. This stunt got media attention, and the discussion has been widened beyond the gates.

  13. Yeah

    But you have to admit he kicked ass in Dark Knight.

  14. Anonymous  

    ugh. they didn't even go here (they just had a lot of feelings about police brutality).

  15. if only

    If only any of you had to endure the racist/illegal treatment by the NYPD you would feel very different. Google "Columbia 1968" then come back here with an informed opinion.

  16. Future police  

    commissioner McShane? if Ray Kelly becomes the next mayor?

  17. Join the Army  

    "I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world."—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

  18. Mknows

    Video of a Stop Stop and Frisk Activist addressing Ray Kelly at SIPA yesterday.

  19. Anonymous

    Pics (better, video) or it didn't happen.

  20. Anonymous

    Dude, you have a crown, too.

  21. Anonymous

    Kelly is dick and should be unable to go anywhere without hearing from the people he's oppressing. The other students are just ignorant fools who haven't experienced the real world yet. Boy, do they have a surprise in store!

  22. MaxBRT

    As an alumna of U. of P., I thought Penn was overly conservative and conformative. Columbia University is a tradition in my family: oldest brother received his master's in mechanical engineering; sister-in-law received a master's in nursing, MPH & DPH; maternal uncle received a PhD in English literature; maternal first cousin received master's in speech therapy; maternal aunt received master's in education; paternal uncle received a football scholarship; maternal uncle received a research fellowship after completing his second set of advanced graduate degrees (MPH & DPH from JHU). Thanks to my family, I have a selection of prestigious schools from which to choose -- and Columbia is not one of my choices. I don't think Columbia was one of the school's during the 1980s, where the students demanded the university divest from South Africa, nor was it one of the universities to support the students in China. Columbia has consistently supported the Palestinian cause to the detriment of its Jewish student body and the state of Israel. The agenda can be quite dubious at Columbia -- seems like everyone at this institution is walking the line to acquire the necessary financial resources no matter who is hurt. The students at this university make the students at Penn look like individualistic liberals by comparison. What's wrong with you? You're nothing like your counterparts at JHU. Then again, most, if not all, students at JHU are on full scholarships and fellowships -- truly the leaders of tommorrow's world. True, there are many conformists at JHU, but nothing even remotely like Columbia. Wasn't Columbia one of the universities during the 1930s and 1940s, which possessed a quota system against Jews? Seems like this university is once again regressing. When I was nine years old, I attended a graduate course in art history with my mother. I returned to the campus, when my oldest brother went to speak with one of his former professors. Haven't been on campus since. I would rather go abroad to finish my graduate studies than return to Columbia's campus. Former mayor Dinkins is the one, who had thousands upon thousands of homeless people sleeping and camping out along the outside walls of Bloomingdale's department store on 59th Street during his rein as mayor. The man has nothing good to offer society or to the public good. He is much like the former mayor Good, who bombed three square blocks in Philadelphia and killed several children in the process. Ask your parents what happened during the 1980s. Graduate students from the Persian Gulf and South Africa at Penn were literally rolling on the floor with laughter at American duplicity and hubris. Remember the American government at the time was espousing the virtues of human rights and promoting sanctions on those states with human rights violations. It's time to look in the mirror.

  23. MaxBRT

    As for students roaming from NYU to Columbia University, that's very common. Why, you ask? The various universities have programs of reciprocity. Do you know what reciprocity means? For example, as a student of the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania, I also possessed library privileges at NYU. Students at the State University of Rutgers University have library privileges at the Princeton University and visa-versa. Students at various universities can take undergraduate and graduate courses at whatever school they wish like Columbia University through the College of General Studies to then transfer to another school's academic degree program. How ignorant can you be? In fact, a greater percentage of students at Columbia University are matriculated through the prosaic College of General Studies. Don't pretend to be so indignant in your alleged ignorance.

  24. MaxBRT

    Kelly is just another toothless American Redneck, who is contributing to the downfall of the U.S. -- and you want to know why so many academics, who have mulitple graduate degrees from the most prestigious universities in the U.S. have chosen to immigrate and become expatriates.... The number is increasing. The U.S. is not replacing these highly educated, skilled professionals with their counterparts from abroad, because there is a concerted effort to abrogate competition to artificially increase the wages of certain professionals in the U.S. like medical doctors. Don't get sick here in the U.S., because the quality has literally gone down the drain. Many of the professors of medicine at the prestigious universities should have been forced to either retire or resign years ago. Thanks to the artificially created disparities in the U.S., the public health system has gone beyond dysfunctional; it is now collapsing. Good luck boys and girls.

  25. Janos

    The number of pro-Kelly comments at the top of this site are embarrassing. Kelly has single-handedly orchestrated the highly racist and legally questionable stop and frisk program, arrested THOUSANDS of black and Hispanic youths for possession of marijuana, which is technically decriminalized (that order to "stop" doing that only came down a few months ago, and there's no evidence yet that arrests have slowed), to say nothing of the violent thuggery of the Occupy Wall Street police beat. This guy is a disgrace, and it's a shame that outsiders needed to ask the hard questions.

  26. Auntie

    At my school, The New School, this would have been applauded as the school itself was formed in protest of Columbia U's policies. As a kid growing up in Harlem, I loved Columbia's majestic campus and wanted to go there. Now not so much. If these are the kinds of questions that can't be asked in an urban policy class, then what is the point?

  27. Raidan Soma

    Video showing slideshow behind Kelly and of Columbia U students silencing protester found here:

  28. Anonymous

    Very sad that Dinkins said he didn't understand the question. That is just weak and shameful.

  29. Anonymous

    Is this why we got the email about public safety?

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