Mayor of Mercy
Think a minute…Mr. Fiorello LeGuardia was the mayor of New York City during the difficult years of the Depression and World War II. The people of New York loved and respected him. Mayor LaGuardia was a big-hearted, colorful character.
He sometimes rode on the fire trucks in the big city, and took the children from the orphanage to a professional baseball game. When the newspapers went on strike, he would read the Sunday comics on the radio to the kids.
One very cold night in January, 1935, Mayor LaGuardia went to the night court in the poorest area of New York City. He sent the judge home early that evening and LaGuardia himself took over as judge. That night an old woman was brought to him.
She was charged with the crime of stealing a loaf of bread. The woman told LaGuardia that her 2 grandchildren were starving and she had no money to pay for the bread, so she stole it. But the shopkeeper whose bread was stolen would not drop the charge. He said: “Your Honor, she must be punished to teach the other people here a lesson. Otherwise they’ll think stealing is OK.”
Mayor LaGuardia turned to the old woman and said, “I know you did it for your grandchildren, but you cannot break the law and steal. Your punishment is $10.” As Mayor LaGuardia was telling the woman her penalty he reached into his pocket and said to her, “I’m paying your fine, because I know you can’t pay it. You’re now free to go.” You can imagine how thankful that poor lady was to receive such mercy, even though she still got her fair and just punishment.
Think a Minute…