On a cold October day in ’93, an 11-year-old boy brought a piece of birthday cake to his mother.
The Queens neighborhood, less than two miles from former President Trump’s childhood home, had seen better days. Giuliani was still a year away from taking office and under Mayor Dinkins, a racist pro-crime hack, New York City had hit lows that it would not see again until the return of Dinkin’s pro-crime protege, Bill de Blasio.
As Travis Lilley headed off with cake from a birthday party downstairs to the New Look Beauty Salon where his mother was working, the street was overrun with drug dealers fighting turf wars. New York Boulevard, renamed Guy R. Brewer Boulevard, after one of the first black politicians in the borough because it was where Brewer opened the Democratic Club that still bears his name, with its fast food joints, auto repair shops and beauty salons, was dangerous.
The beauty parlor that Travis’ grandmother owned was on an intersection favored by drug dealers. Local business owners had complained to the Dinkins administration with no results.
Travis, who would forever remain eleven on that day, went downstairs to the beauty parlor that his grandmother owned. Drug dealers opened fire. The bullets, the prosecutor would later describe, “tore away the back of Travis Lilley’s head.”
Travis died in his grandfather’s arms surrounded by broken glass.
“It was his only grandchild — the baby died in his arms,” a neighbor said.
What happened on October 30, 1993 was an evil act. But it was the ordinary kind of evil that men have done throughout human history. What happened next was the extraordinary kind of evil that defines societies.
The pro-crime Left fell in love with the man convicted in the 11-year-old boy’s death.
At the sentencing of the first shooter, Travis’ mother scathingly dismissed the bawling gunman’s claims of innocence with, “he knows he’s going to spend the rest of his life in jail. That’s all he’s concerned about.”
At the sentencing of the second man, his pal, the judge declared, “It is my hope that you never again have access to decent, innocent people.”
That hope has proven to be false.
Gov. Hochul decided to commute his sentence, noting that, “Mr. Bryant has earned an Associate’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree, and recently earned a certification through an entrepreneurial training program.” And what is the life of a little boy dying in his grandfather’s arms worth compared to his killer’s entrepreneurial training program?
“Why NY’s ‘Poster Child For Clemency’ Is Still Behind Bars,” a social justice reporter, who had written a similar agitprop piece for CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, funded by the leftist Craigslist billionaire, complained.
Bruce Bryant, 53, a former crack dealer, is anything but a child. The child was Travis.
“Bryant isn’t the only one confused as to why he continues to be overlooked for clemency. Steve Zeidman, director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at CUNY School of Law, has helped over a dozen New York state prisoners successfully gain clemency, and he said there’s no one more deserving of freedom than Bruce Bryant,” she wrote.
“Even if Bruce was as guilty as a human being can be, he still warrants clemency, because of all he’s done inside,” Zeidman insisted.
Zeidman, who records show earns over $180,000 from the publicly funded City University of New York, has been an articulate spokesman for the assorted monsters rattling the bars of their cages, eager to get out and maim, rob and kill all over again. Who speaks for Travis? No one.
“Say Their Names — The People Deserving Clemency,” the law professor demanded in one screed, urging Gov. Hochul to let out Bryant, along with Stanley Bellamy, now also freed by Hochul, who had shot a man in the head at close range during a robbery in 1985.
Who will say Travis’ name?
It’s a pity that the New Yorkers who are regularly robbed, beaten and killed by thugs aren’t paying someone $180,000 a year to say the names of the victims, just of the killers.
“Rotten Social Background and Mass Incarceration: Who Is a Victim?” Zeidman wondered in the Brooklyn Law Review. It’s easy to spot the victims. They’re the ones who don’t have $180,000 law professors agitating for them and who die forgotten in the arms of their loved ones.
It is also just as easy to spot evil.
There are two tiers of evil. On the first and lesser tier of evil are the men who commit horrifying acts and on the second and greater tier are those who transform their evil into a societal norm.
Almost 30 years after Travis died in a beauty salon on New York Boulevard, and shortly after a sickened city finally fought back against not only the drug dealers, the rapists, robbers and other thugs, but the pro-crime political culture that had enabled them, criminals are victims again.
In a CUNY puff piece written on Bryant’s behalf, the man convicted in Travis’ killing claimed that he turned to crime because he “saw white, wealthy customers mouth off to his father.” A customer is rude to a waiter. What else can his son do except start selling crack?
White leftists love sob stories like that. But the ultimate victims of mythologizing crime as a reaction to racism are the little black kids like Travis whom it kills. And at some point it needs to be asked why white leftists have so much love for black killers, but none for black victims?
Gov. Hochul, who refused to bring back bail and stop the crime, survived her election due to dirty tricks, election rigging and a lack of empathy by the Zeidman class, the wealthy upscale leftists who have once again destroyed New York City, for the victims of crime.
Crime continues to terrorize New Yorkers and pro-crime leftists continue to lie about it. And the victims, stabbed in the neck, teeth smashed out on an evening walk, raped, beaten and killed, are shut out of the cheerful conversation about the need to free criminals and end policing.
“Individual traits are not the driver of criminal behavior,” Zeidman insisted.
It’s an old argument. The loudest voices arguing that we have no choice in our actions are those who defend the worst possible crimes. The difference between a moral and immoral society is human agency. The atrocities of the twentieth century were committed by men who believed that human beings were little more than animals or social variables. We defeated them in Europe, but tragically we never defeated them in America. And now they’re calling the shots.
The world has moved on since the murder of a little boy bearing a piece of birthday cake. The corner where the New Look Beauty Salon once stood has been occupied by the Al-Baraka Islamic Halal market. A pro-crime governor and legislative leaders occupy Albany.
Gov. Hochul is taking her victory lap by commuting the sentence of an 11-year-old boy’s killer.
Over 3 million people in New York voted for this. In 1993, two men pulled the triggers on the bullets that likely took Travis’ life. In 2022, 3,030,712 people pulled the trigger.
That is the difference between individual evil and societal evil.