De Blasio celebrates Ken Thompson’s ‘historic moment’

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Ken Thompson. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated Brooklyn's new district attorney, Ken Thompson, as a "thorough-going progressive" and a partner in changing the city's use of stop-and-frisk, at an inauguration party for Thompson on Sunday afternoon.

De Blasio was among a parade of elected officials—including all three citywide officials, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli—who joined hundreds of supporters at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn to inaugurate Brooklyn's first new D.A. in two decades.

“It’s a historic moment in terms of our values being expressed and acted on differently, our values as New Yorkers, our compassionate values, our progressive values,” said de Blasio. “This all comes together in the moment of Ken Thompson becoming our district attorney.”

Thompson's campaign to unseat longtime D.A. Charles (Joe) Hynes echoed de Blasio's own campaign, arguing against the aggressive use of stop-and-frisk by the police department.

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And on Sunday de Blasio cast Thompson as a partner in a progressive transformation of the city's attitude toward policing.

“[P]ublic safety and law and order run hand in hand with civil liberties,” said the mayor in his 11-minute speech, adding that “together with so many of us, Ken is going to help create a new New York in which we make people safe and respect their rights at the same time, and that means ending the overuse of stop-and-frisk once and for all.”

Thompson thanked the mayor for his support and briefly outlined his strategy toward prosecuting gun and gangs, before noting: “However, none of this will work if we don’t have a strong relationship between law enforcement and the community. That means we cannot have excessive use of stop-and-frisk not based on reasonable suspicion.”

“[T]he ultimate duty of a prosecutor is not to get a conviction," he told the crowd. "The ultimate duty of a prosecutor is to do justice."

The crowd also included several members of Congress who endorsed Thompson's campaign—Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke, Jerold Nadler, and Nydia M. Velazquez—and Thompson's law partner from private practice.

Douglas Wigdor, who Thompson praised as "one of the best law partners anyone could ever have," took one last shot at the Hynes campaign.

“Good afternoon," he told the crowd. "What a beautiful winter day. Thirty inches of snow. I guess after the election the Hynes pollsters must have taken up weather forecasting."

Thompson was gracious in his own remarks, thanking Hynes for his public service, even after a bitter campaign that included highly personal attacks from both sides.

"Stepping apart from the campaign, Joe Hynes got up every day for 24 years, and went to work to keep us safe," Thompson said. "And I think that we have to honor him. May God bless him all the days of his life."

The event stretched for more than three hours, and attendees grew antsy as they waited for Thompson to take the stage.

After the new D.A. gave his remarks, emcee Jacque Reid cautioned the restive audience to stay a moment longer, saying, "I-I know you're eager to go now, the big moment has happened," but asking them to stay for the benediction.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story attributed the remark "one of the best law partners anyone could ever have" to Doug Wigdor. It was made by Thompson, speaking about Wigdor.