OPINION Rudy Giuliani Was Never a “Great Mayor”

By Arthur Schwartz

RUDY GIULIANI. Mug shot courtesy of the Fulton County Department of Corrections.

When he got indicted in Atlanta in August, some in the media spoke about how sad it was that “America’s Mayor” lost his way in the Trump era. But the fact is, Rudy Guiliani has always been a corrupt, racist, divisive political figure. For a few days in September 2001, he played an important role in calming down the City. After a few weeks, however, he suggested that he be allowed to stay in office past the end of his last term. Immediately, everyone, even the NY Post, said “no way.” He was despised by most New Yorkers, even then.

As he left his apartment to travel to Atlanta to be arrested on racketeering charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state of Georgia, Guiliani stopped to complain to reporters about the legal predicament he put himself in. “I get photographed, isn’t that nice? A mugshot for the mayor who probably put the worst criminals of the 20th century in jail,” Guiliani said. In spite of his whining, Giuliani claimed that he would be turning himself in with a sense of pride. “I’m going to Georgia, and I’m feeling very, very, good about it because I feel like I’m defending the rights of all Americans as I did so many times as a United States Attorney,” he explained.

The chest pumping continued as the ex-mayor bragged some more about his legacy. “People like to say I’m different—I’m the same Rudy Giuliani that took down the Mafia, that made New York City the safest city in America, reduced crime more than any mayor in the history of any city anywhere, and I’m fighting for justice,” Guiliani added.

Like others, I have been annoyed by Guiliani managing to coast on that legacy, his time as a U.S. attorney for so many decades, and his handling of NYC in the moments after 9-11. So much of the media coverage his current troubles—legal, financial, and professional alike—remains stuck on the narrative that is some fall from grace rather than what it is: the start of a just ending for someone that has not only long exploited racism and violence for political gain, but openly floated a  once he obtained power years before it was en vogue.

Yes, he exploited the Nixon-era crafted RICO law to go after some mobsters, but in fact, the RICO law was crafted by others, and the prosecutions during his years as U.S. Attorney were shaped by brilliant practitioners on his staff.

Some forget that Giuliani tried to use his public persona to run for Mayor in 1989, losing to our first Black Mayor, David Dinkins after running a blatantly racist campaign which continued non-stop after he lost.

His non-stop campaign peaked in September 1992, when he led a demonstration of thousands of off-duty cops outside City Hall in protest of Dinkins’ call for the establishment of a Civilian Complaint Review Board along with a special investigatory commission amid allegations of misconduct in the NYPD.

Guiliani railed against Mayor Dinkins as white NYPD officers chanted racial epithets about him along with insults like “crackhead.” Others carried signs depicting Dinkins in obscene sex acts, too. The demonstration turned riotous, yet the history of the City Hall Riot had largely faded from Guiliani’s bio until January 6th
In an interview with New York magazine about the riot, our current NYC Mayor, Eric Adams, said in 2021, “It’s almost equivalent to what we saw at the Capitol.”

As a close result unfolded in 1990, he accused David Dinkins of “cheating” without offering evidence to support his claim. (Sound familiar?)

When Guiliani became Mayor, it came with racial profiling, an angry, antagonistic attitude towards Black leaders, and his defense of the horrific attack on Abner Louima, a Haitian American man who, in 1997, was physically attacked, brutalized, and raped by officers of the New York City Police Department. Giuliani’s response was to call for an all-NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board. And he didn’t much care for Eric Adams, then a NYPD captain, who stood with Louima and denounced his fellow officers.

And I remember Giuliani’s frequent Town Hall meetings, where anyone who stood up and asked a challenging question was denounced as an “idiot” and was escorted out by the NYPD at Giuliani’s request. Or the 25 successful First Amendment cases filed against him as Mayor by Norman Siegel of the NYCLU.
Donald Trump does not stand alone when it comes to racist politicians with autocratic tendencies.

Look at the contempt in Rudy Guiliani’s face in his mugshot. He cannot believe that this has happened to him. Because he is Rudy Guiliani, “America’s Mayor.” He sounds so masturbatory when talking about himself because enough people have allowed him to believe his B.S.

Giuliani sounded indignant after he left the jail, telling reporters that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis “will go down in American history as having conducted one of the worst attacks on the American Constitution ever when this case is dismissed.” Later, during an appearance on Steve Bannon’s War Room, Giuliani said of Willis, “For a lawyer to bring an indictment like that indicates, number one, you don’t understand the law and number two, you’re not an American. You’re something else.”

If the racist undertone of his critique is not clear enough, Guiliani went on to falsely note, “[Willis’] father was a member of the Black Panthers, a police killer, police murderer, who is now the chief of the Black Lives Matter.”

Meanwhile, Guiliani can’t even practice law right now and is facing the prospect of dying in prison because he actually thought he could successfully help Donald Trump plan a coup d’état and collect a payment of $800,000.

David Dinkins is no longer with us, but I do wonder what all of the Black and Latino men who got stopped during Guiliani’s terms as Mayor think of his mugshot. I also know the joy that the Black Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman, and her daughter, Shaye Moss, felt after Giuliani turned himself in. The racist lies he told about them are included in the indictment against him and he deserves every bit of misery as a consequence for the death threats and harassment his lies caused.