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Rare UN Link to NYC, Police Shooting Raised by ICP, LA Mayor Responds 

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 14 – At the UN in Manhattan the morning after protests in Brooklyn of the police shooting of 16 year old Kimani Gray, the mayors of cities like Beirut, Bogota and even Los Angeles met as part of UN-Habitat's Global Network on Safer Cities.

  Inner City Press asked the panel about police brutality, and about the death of Kimani Gray. It was LA Mayor Villaraigosa who answered, speaking in favor of civilian review and control of the police, and noting that the preamble of the Network's “outcome document” refers to civil and human rights.

The panel was asked about the use of drones, which witnesses in East Flatbush say the New York Police Department deployed Wednesday night, along with spotlighted helicopters.

  Generally, though, it was a typical UN rah-rah session, with hat tips to gender violence, tolerance and urban planning. Habitat director Joan Clos cited Jane Jacobs; the mayor of Bogota spoke of harm reduction, even the de-criminalization of drugs. The UN's Narcotics Control Board's position is rigidly against this, opposing the program in for example Vancouver.

  The initiative was extra-UN in another way as well: typical in that the participants want money in a trust fund, untypical in that the disbursement, not yet agreed, would avoid national governments and go directly to cities.

  An official from Cote d'Ivoire was asked how a divided city like Abidjan can be kept together. He answered by referring to mayors in the West of the country, reportedly still under-served as a retaliation against those who supported former president Laurent Gbagbo, who is now waiting trial on war crimes charges in The Hague. Now that's a city.... Watch this site.

 Footnote: Inner City Press thanked the mayors for the briefing, but didn't spell out: for the Free UN Coalition for Access. That's because there was no mention of UNCA, the UN's Censorship Alliance.

There is no need to brand these briefing. But when it's done, FUNCA will respond, to resist favoritism for UNCA, an organization which tried and tries to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN. Just like cities and police departments, the UN too needs rules.

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