In March, as the coronavirus spread through the nation’s biggest city, the mayor of New York City was proudly “telling people to not avoid restaurants, not avoid the normal things they would do” because “if you are not sick … you should be going about your life.” His advice may have contributed to the deaths of thousands of New Yorkers.
In April, he angrily singled out the “Jewish community” in a tweet, threatening a vulnerable minority with mass arrests for breaking social distancing rules — which he himself had violated just three days earlier.
Yet late on Saturday night, as mass protests against police brutality raged across New York City, the Democratic mayor crossed a new and grotesque line: He went on live television, on NY1, to defend and excuse police brutality against those protesters.
De Blasio needs to resign.
He should resign because his comments on Saturday night were brazen and disgusting lies. Two New York Police Department vehicles were filmed ramming into protesters behind a barricade. The mayor said the video was “upsetting” but claimed that it was “inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers,” adding that the officers had to “get out” of that “impossible” situation.
The police were surrounded? They had no other options? The (viral) video evidence suggests otherwise.
It is clear that neither police car was surrounded; both drivers could have reversed but chose instead to plough their vehicles into the crowd of people in front of them. So who should we believe? De Blasio or our own lying eyes?
He should resign because he is behaving less like a leader and more like a sociopath. “If those protestors had just gotten out of the way we wouldn’t be talking about this situation,” is an actual quote from the mayor of New York City, in his live broadcast on NY1. Got that? The unarmed people on the street run over by armed men in cars should … blame themselves for being run over!
He should resign because he is starting to sound like the far-right Republican president he once wanted to replace (until he had to end his presidential campaign last September because he was polling at less than 1 percent nationally.) This, I kid you not, is another astonishing quote from the mayor: “Any protester that tries to take the humanity away from a police officer and devalue them just because they are a public servant is no better than the racists who devalue people of color and particularly black men in America.”
To quote New York human rights lawyer Kumar Rao, “This is Bill de Blasio’s ‘very fine people on both sides’ moment.” (It is also worth noting here that the “very fine” white nationalist in Charlottesville, Virginia, who killed Heather Heyer did so by driving his car into a crowd of protesters!)
On Sunday morning, de Blasio acknowledged “mistakes” and called for a city review of police behavior. This is far from enough. He should resign because he has a history of failing black New Yorkers on this crucial issue of police brutality. For five long years, de Blasio stubbornly refused to call for the firing of the police officers involved in the death of Eric Garner in 2014. “He also delayed for years a departmental trial that could have led to the officer’s dismissal,” as the New York Times pointed out last July.
Earlier this month, the mayor defended the NYPD’s violent enforcement of social distancing guidelines against communities of color — while ignoring official data showing that black New Yorkers “who make up a quarter of the city’s population, accounted for more than two-thirds” of those arrested for social distancing offenses.
He should resign because he ran for mayor in 2013 on a platform of police reform, and even put out a campaign video slamming “stop and frisk,” which featured him in conversation with his then-15-year-old black son Dante. That ad, titled “Dignity,” is often credited with helping him secure victory in the mayoral election. At the Democratic presidential debate in Miami last June, de Blasio again invoked his son. “For the last 21 years, I have been raising a black son in America,” he said. “I have had to have very, very serious talks with my son, Dante, about how to protect himself on the streets of our city and all over our country, including how to deal with the fact that he has to take special caution because there have been too many tragedies between our young men and our police.”
Yet hundreds of black teenagers, who look just like Dante, will continue to be targeted, brutalized, and killed by New York’s “finest.”
And Dante’s father will continue to shrug his shoulders and say they should just have just gotten out of the way.
Shame on him.