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Morning Spew

Governor Hochul: MLK Said to Not Judge People So Stop Judging My Judicial Nominee

At least one person found this speech "distasteful."

10:06 AM EST on January 17, 2023

Gov Hochul speaks from the pulpit at the Trinity Lutheran Church on Sunday.

Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. (Darren McGee/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

On Saturday, Governor Kathy Hochul appeared in the Bronx alongside a slew of lawmakers who support her embattled pick to be New York's top judge, Hector LaSalle.

On Sunday, Hochul took her appeal to two churches in New York City, where she urged the congregations to ignore the "lies" that had been said about LaSalle, and support him before his hearing at the State Senate's judiciary committee on Wednesday.

At Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park, a protester rose to challenge Hochul after she spoke, urging the governor to push for stronger protections for struggling tenants across the state. Several NYPD officers escorted them from the premises.

A spokesperson from the governor's office told Hell Gate that they did not provide any instructions or recommendations to the police department. (The NYPD did not respond to our request for comment.)

"[Hochul] spoke about Dr. King, but she also used that to compare Hector LaSalle to Martin Luther King, which I found distasteful," the protester, Genesis Aquino, told PIX11.

"Dr. King called upon us to be just and to be fair, and to not judge people. And that has not been afforded to an individual named judge Hector LaSalle," Hochul said, roughly two minutes into her nine-minute speech, according to audio provided by the governor's office.

Hochul's speech mostly concerned the struggle over LaSalle's nomination and its relation to Dr. King's struggle for equality, marbled with bits of her own biography as a "social justice Catholic" whose parents took her to protests.

"When he was gunned down, assassinated, my family sat there and held hands and wept. How could this be?" Hochul said. "How could this man of God who taught us about nonviolence and social justice and change, and not judging people by the color of their skin, or one or two cases out of 5,000 cases decided."

You can read Hochul's speech in full, as faithfully as we could transcribe the audio, below the links. (The governor's office did not issue a transcript of the speech, as they sometimes do.)

More stories to read and concepts to consider:

And now, here is a transcript of Governor Hochul's remarks to Trinity Lutheran Church in Sunset Park.

Today we are here to honor the legacy of Dr. King. There's no other church I'd rather be at than Trinity Lutheran. Because this place, this house of God is known throughout the city as a place that embodies the values of the life of Dr. King, all these decades later. I'm talking about how we believe in justice, fairness, not judging people. So Pastor Sam, Dr. Sam, your name goes out to the people looking for justice and fairness and honesty and integrity. That's why I wanted to come and join you here in this church today.

We're also joined by Bishop Ray Rivera, we had a chance to be together yesterday, yesterday with many many leaders. Nydia Velázquez. Adriano Espaillat. Members of Congress. Trailblazers. The first Puerto Rican woman, the first Dominican man ever elected to Congress. Also who has done it first: Brooklyn's own Hakeem Jeffries. [Applause] The first person of color elevated to one of the top positions in our government, minority leader of the House of Representatives. Just for the next two years, because if we do it right and pull together, we can make him the Speaker of the House of Representatives right here from Brooklyn. [Applause] Thank you Bishop Rivera for gathering these leaders, these national leaders under one common message I wanted to share.

Dr. King called upon us to be just and to be fair and to not judge people. And that has not been afforded to an individual named Judge Hector LaSalle. And I know in my heart that we're better than that. We don't want to be judged ourselves, do we? Has anyone else walked into a place and had people looking at you who got this preconceived notion of who you already are, based on your skin or where you worked or something you said? That's not fair. They know it's not fair, you know it's not fair. But that is what is happening to this individual, whose family struggled, coming here from Puerto Rico like so many others, searching for the American dream. Raised in a community that wasn't all that friendly to Puerto Ricans, off on Long Island, he overcame a lot. 

He was raised, as he would call himself, a center-left Democrat—he never lost that. He was raised to believe in workers' rights, because he saw the struggles of his parents and grandparents, and they took him to the picket line when he was just a little child. That's who he is. And I'll tell you, he was stunned that anyone would say that he did not support a woman's right to choose. He said my own daughter called and said, "Dad, that's not true!" And he said, "I know that's not true, but people are saying it."

So I believe in a just world. I believe in Dr. King. I love this celebration that you have displayed in honor of him today. And I'll take you back many years. He lost his life, he was gunned down, assassinated when he was 39 years old. I as a child…I knew him and his story while he was still alive. He'd come to Buffalo. My parents were social justice Catholics. We protested everything under the sun. We marched against hunger, we marched for the civil rights movement, we marched against the Vietnam War. My household knew the story of Dr. King. In fact, I did a book report on him when I was a little girl while he was still alive. When he was gunned down, assassinated, my family sat there and held hands and wept. How could this be? How could this man of God who taught us about nonviolence and social justice and change, and not judging people by the color of their skin, or one or two cases out of 5,000 cases decided.

But also as a child, I had other influences than Dr. King. My own parents found a small church in Lackawanna, New York. Why Lackawanna? Right next to the steel plant. My dad worked for the union, Lincoln Steel…A lot of people came up from Puerto Rico to work at Lincoln Steel, they also worked on the farms. The newly arrived families had nothing. My parents saw them, they made friends with their local priest. My mom and dad started a childcare center, summer camp for the children of the Puerto Ricans. I was one of the teachers. I was in sixth grade, I was a kindergarten teacher. So I knew the struggles of these families who are American citizens who came here and they're treated as if they're from some faraway country. I saw the injustice. One of the reasons I'm in politics today. It's a bit of a rough and tumble business. But I don't mind. We've seen struggles throughout our history: The Bible, the lives of people like Dr. King, my own parents, who were criticized for being so far left…But that's how I was raised. 

So you need to know that about me. The values that I bring to the selection process, and how I found them in a person named Hector LaSalle. Who, yes, will make history, it's about time we stop making history, it should have never taken this long for a person of color with his family, to lead the highest court in our state, and he will. But also, he deserves to be treated the same way every other candidate was, as every other candidate was, every other person put forth by a judge in the history of our state, because that's the fairness, the justice, that's required by all of us, not just through our teachings, not just through Christ's teachings, but also the influence of Dr. King, who we honor this weekend. 

So I call upon everyone: Take another look, listen to the man, don't judge him, until you know and understand, open-minded, and all those ways you'd want to be treated…Do unto others as they'd have them do unto you. Who else wants to sit there and be judged and have their name reduced to lies? We've seen that lies travel around the world four times faster, around the planet, past the planet, around the earth, even before the truth has the chance to leave the tarmac. That's what's happened here. The lies have circulated before the truth had the chance to catch up. This week is the moment of truth. And I'm so grateful to have leaders like Pastor Sam, Dr. Sam, and Bishop Rivera. And so many people are standing up and saying, "Wait! Don't let this happen! It's not fair! He doesn't deserve it." So in Dr. Martin Luther King's name, I ask everyone, look into your hearts, your own conscience. Is this what you'd want to happen to you? There is a chance, there is an opportunity to turn all this around and do the right thing. That's what we're gonna do. That's why we walk this earth, to make this place better. To lift up the voices of communities who had not had this chance, and that's what I'm going to continue to do as the governor. 

And I thank those who joined my administration, our secretary of state, Robert Rodriguez, gracias for all you've done to show people that there are doors being opened. My lieutenant governor could not be here because he's taking care of the state, Antonio Delgado, another partner of mine…They are the pioneers that fight the struggles. Thank you for being a part of my administration. And my husband Bill who has been at my side all these journeys and all these battles. We all know that anything that's worth fighting for, is worth standing up for, and never giving in. I ask all of you to join me on a journey to make history and do justice by a good man, a good man who'd be a great judge. Thank you, gracias. [Applause]

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