De Blasio doubles down on defending NYPD: “Police have shown a lot of restraint”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have continued to defend NYC police in the face of an increasing number of incidents, many captured on video, depicting violence and brutality towards protestors. After a press conference on Friday morning (6/5) when he promised "more change" to the NYPD, de Blasio appeared on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show where his defense in the case of overwhelming evidence to the contrary continued. "Police have shown a lot of restraint," he insisted at one point:
In terms of the way that the many many thousands of people have been our there protesting have been addressed, look, there are specific incidents I don't accept, where there needs to be discipline, but the vest majority of what I've seen is peaceful protest that has been respected as always, and folks making their voices heard for change, and police have shown a lot of restraint. You're always going to see, unfortunately cause we're humans, you're going to see specific things that didn't work, and there has to be consequence, and then there has to be changes in approach, but I've been out there so many times in the last week, Brian, literally just going right up to where the protests were to watch them, and I have seen overwhelmingly peaceful protest being respected by the NYPD.
Addressing descriptions of kettling from police in The Bronx on Thursday night (6/4), de Blasio blamed groups of organized criminals that police were targeting, and said:
If any protestors were there peacefully and not associated with that and they got hemmed in and all, that's something I don't accept, and we have to fix, and I will make sure there's a full review of what happened there. but I think there's almost a little bit of magical thinking here that the horrible stuff that happened Sunday night, Monday night didn't happen, that the attacks we've been seeing certainly since Friday night, systematic attacks on officers, systematic use of violence, by a few, but enough to make a huge negative impact, that that's not happening, that we don't have to somehow address all these issues at once.
"The vast majority of working class, middle class New Yorkers every single day, they want safety first for themselves, for their families, and they associate that safety with the NYPD," de Blasio said. Shortly after, a caller disagreed, saying, "your police turn into werewolves at 8 PM every night."
You can listen to the whole discussion on WNYC.org.
Meanwhile, the New York Times posted a new op-ed on Friday with the headline, "Mayor de Blasio, Open Your Eyes. The Police Are Out of Control." Here's an excerpt:
New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio, is responsible for the city’s failure to protect the safety of its residents. As evidence of police abuse has mounted, he has averted his eyes, insisting Thursday that the Police Department uses as “light a touch as possible.”
“We are doing everything from a perspective of restraint,” he said at a news conference.
Many police officers are performing with grace under difficult conditions; some have been injured in the line of duty. And it cannot be easy for men and women sworn to protect the public to hear themselves accused by demonstrators as threats to society.
The Police Department also faces a genuine challenge in preventing lawless outbursts of looting that have left shopping streets in New York and other cities in ruins.
But Mr. de Blasio appears unwilling to confront the reality that the department is failing to meet the demands of this moment. Officers have been allowed to behave in a manner that disgraces their mission to protect and serve, and violates the public trust.
The mayor is allowing that to happen.
You can read the full op-ed here.
This op-ed comes a day after the Times posted another, incredibly controversial opinion piece from Arkansas senator Tom Cotton. Titled Tom Cotton: Send In the Troops, the article was subject to enormous backlash, including from Times employees, over 300 of whom are participating in a virtual walk out over it.
In a later post, the Times said the piece "did not meet standards," with the editor in charge of the department, James Bennett, admitting he hadn't read it prior to publication.