Growing Up Giuliani (Newsweek cover story)

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On Sept. 16, 1992, the police in New York City held a rally that spun out of control. The cops wanted a new collective-bargaining agreement, and they were angry at Mayor David Dinkins for proposing a civilian review board and for refusing to issue patrolmen 9mm guns. More than a few of them tipsy or drunk, the cops jumped on cars near city hall and blocked traffic near the Brooklyn Bridge. According to some witnesses, they waved placards crudely mocking Mayor Dinkins, the first black mayor of New York, on racial grounds, while at the same time chanting "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" to welcome Rudy Giuliani, the crime-busting former U.S. attorney who had arrived in their midst to shore up his political base.

It is not clear Giuliani knew exactly what he was getting himself into—he later denied that he did—but video shows him wildly gesticulating and shouting a profanity-laced diatribe against Dinkins. The next day the New York newspapers were sharply critical of Giuliani (a Daily News editorial called his behavior "shameful"), and Dinkins, years later, accused him of trying to stir up "white cops to riot." At the time, Giuliani refused to back down or apologize for his remarks, saying only: "I had four uncles who were cops. So maybe I was more emotional than I usually am." Giuliani's performance that day lost African-American voters, some permanently, but it guaranteed the informal backing of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the policemen's union, which helped him get elected mayor in 1993.

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