Last Sunday, in a tiny but prominent retail and community space on Myrtle Avenue, an embodiment of the prosaic and practical in New York City politics came up against one of its chief avatars of creativity and unbridled idealism. The match between these two wildly contrasting mayoral candidates — former Department of Sanitation head Kathryn Garcia and rapper/activist Paperboy Love Prince – was entirely friendly, but both nonetheless ended up with an eyeful of whip cream for their troubles.
This sort of whimsy isn’t something you might associate with a nuts-and-bolts operative like Garcia, and yet, there she was this weekend, dressed sensibly in black skirt and pink jacket, grinding with steely-eyed gusto an aluminum pie tin brimming with frothy miracle whip into Prince’s grinning face.
Helping draw a longtime bureaucrat with Garcia’s experience and gravitas to the event — aside from her stint at the DOS, she was the Interim Chair of the NYC Housing Authority and, before resigning to run for mayor, had been appointed ‘food czar’ last year by Mayor DeBlasio — was its fundraising angle. Money raised from the event went into the coffers of Black Chef Movement, a food aid organization which gained visibility last summer via the feeding of BLM protestors.
The actual pie-throwing was only the two minute culmination of an hour-long event that featured a drawing contest, a dance-off and a reasonably sober exchange of ideas.
As it turned out, Garcia — endorsed in the mayoral race by two Teamsters Locals and the SEIU’s Sanitation Officers Association — had much in common politically and philosophically with Prince, especially when it came to housing.
Policing, however, quickly became the primary focus of their amiable exchange, fitting considering the event’s protestor-supporting beneficiaries.
“[The police] are a warrior class, not a guardian class,” lamented Garcia. “[Policing] is a service, just like drinking water. And we need to have police live in the city. They could be your neighbor, you could see them at the grocery store. Also, they need better training, so they’re de-escalating situations. And we need to hold the bad apples accountable.”
“I envision a team focused on love rather than on policing,” offered Prince. “If you’re focused on policing, you’re going to find the negative. People say ‘there were [blank] amount of shootings,’ but they don’t know how many old ladies were helped across the street. Measure the love.”
All that was left, then, was the main event. Garcia made sure her counterpart’s sacrifice, not to mention her own, was put in proper context.
“Food insecurity issues in NYC are really terrible,” said Garcia, standing in the sun with silver pie tin piled high with whipped cream balanced on one hand. “But this is a fun way to bring information to folks. People are suffering. Food, water, housing: that’s what we’re supposed to do but we’re not doing it. So, Paperboy, I’m pie-ing you because of all your good works, your love and also because you’re a good sport.”
“I’ve done this before, but this time it feels special,” Prince said, the seriousness in their voice belying their still-messy face. “This is about all the people who thought that you, Kathryn, wouldn’t make it this far because of who you are, and who thought I wouldn’t make it this far because of who I am and where I come from. This is about all of you, the people of New York, who deserve the best mayor possible.”
Photo credit: Matt Fink.
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