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Defender of the Community


Just before the holidays, as many of us here in New York City wanted nothing more than a brief reprieve from politics, our mayor, Bill de Blasio, killed a deer. It was a small, furry, single-antlered, white-tailed buck that had appeared in Harlem. For much of December, the deer became a kind of mascot for the neighborhood, spreading Christmas cheer — until it hopped a fence into a local public-housing project and de Blasio, citing safety issues, sentenced it to death. Although this was an ultimately rational decision, the image of a powerful official euthanizing a lost animal had miserable optics. Making matters worse, our governor, Andrew Cuomo, who is always eager to humiliate the mayor, seized the pro-deer high ground and issued an immediate stay of execution. But even as a team of state officials was sent to save the deer, the little creature died from stress, frightened and alone, at a city shelter on East 110th Street.

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is a staff writer at the New York Times and the author of Over There: From the Bronx to Baghdad (Counterpoint).

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