Long-Time Harlem Democrat Has Colorful Back And Forth With CBS 2 Reporter

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Congressman Charles Rangel is refusing to endorse a proposal to rename a Harlem street for a slain police officer and the Harlem Democrat was not happy with CBS 2 on Friday for even asking about it.

He’s 81 years old and slowed by a bad back, but Rep. Rangel can still dance as evidence by a touch of the Salsa at an event in the Bronx.

He also did a two-step when asked about the co-naming of a street to honor Patrolman Philip Cardillo, who was shot dead at a Harlem mosque in 1972.

“This is an opportunity to show that you’re much smarter than your question,” Rangel told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.

The question was simple: Does Rangel support a proposal to rename the street behind the 28th Precinct station house “Officer Philip Cardillo Way?”

At the time of the killing, Rangel was a young congressman who visited the racially-tense scene and communicated with controversial mosque leader Louis Farrakhan.

Supporters said Rangel defused tensions, but the lead detective said he and other Harlem leaders interfered with police.

“Truly hampered the making of the case,” said retired NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen.

When asked about being at the scene in 1972, Rangel said it was “a tragedy” that the Officer Cardillo died.

So will Rangel support the proposed honor for Officer Cardillo? The question elicited an interesting exchange.

Rangel: “You can frame the question any number of ways, but you’re not gonna get any better answer.”

Aiello: “It’s a simple yes or no. Do you support renaming the street to honor the dead policeman?”

Rangel: “It may be simple to you because you’re asking the question. It doesn’t appear to me to be a simple question.”

It’s a question that seems simple to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“The least we could do is have a street renaming,” Kelly said.

In a statement, the police union urged Rangel to get on board, saying “This is not about religion or politics. It’s about overdue recognition for an officer who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Rangel told Aiello he feels the mosque slaying remains controversial in the community, so he won’t take a stand. The proposal is stuck in committee at Community Board 10.

Do you support or oppose the street co-naming?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below…

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