New York City Law Blog

Your Civil Rights Are Precious

DeBlasio’s Disastrous Response to the Floyd Protests

This is week-old news, but I had some formatting problems. Those, plus my outrage led to my publication in Salon, which was named an editor’s pick and got thousands of hits. Nevertheless, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After the accumulated grievance of the Floyd George killing, Bill De Blasio installs his hacks – I don’t care how qualified they are – to investigate the NYPD response to the George Floyd protests. The Great White Hope elected to eliminate “A Tale of Two Cities,” finally shows abject failure. His “Panel” will conduct a horse and pony show, listen, then cast no blame on a single police officer nor the Mayor. His progress on police misconduct is non-existent, yet he had the nerve (no examples provided) to say the NYPD “is not what it once was.” You can see the NYPD running over pedestrians in the street here. The Mayor’s press conference is here.

Immediately at the half-minute mark, De Blasio states: “There are changes we have to make and changes we will make in this City.” What? Were you not elected to make these changes seven years ago? You are starting with a promise for “change” now, as we count the days for you to leave? Why not go far and let the Public Advocate take over. At 1:10, he “thank[s G]od [there was] no loss of life, no major injuries.” Really? Look at the video and tell me that the injuries suffered by those pedestrians were not “major.” What counts as an injury when the police are involved? This is your NYPD, DeBlasio; you have failed in reforming it. I’m injured just looking at the cruiser rush into the pedestrians. DeBlasio repeats the “no major injuries” line a minute later, then a minute later again, suggesting certain linguistic flailing. DeBlasio doesn’t know what to say because he knows he has failed, and this response proves it. He also knows he’s pandering to the police – most of whom don’t live in New York City – and their unions, of whom he’s terrified.

Soon, he praises the alleged “tremendous restraint overall from the NYPD.” “Overall,” of course, is an equivocation. Then he notes that instead of violence, people should “hold the elected officials accountable and all the things that could lead to change[.]” I do not advocate violence by any means, but let’s not kid ourselves. The protests in New York City, as well as across the nation, were a collective response of the FAILURE of elected officials, including, of course, DeBlasio, to control their police forces. He excuses the police cruiser piling into a crowd of pedestrians, noting that, “the situation was created by a group of protesters blocking and surrounding a police vehicle.” What difference does that make? The ends do not justify the means. Violence meets violence, and neither side is justified. The police were in no rush; there was no danger other than some jeering and water throwing. The cops were safe within their vehicles. Had there been an imminent threat, that would have been another question. But we need not answer that question when the police were in no danger. Instead, the police simply believe they are above the law and knew they could act with impunity.

That’s less than the first ten minutes of the self-serving, defensive conference. I’m exhausted writing this, but there’s more to come. DeBlasio failed his on COVID, and he’s long failed at controlling the NYPD. Let’s not let him get away with it. He’s been in many ways worse than Trump. Perhaps we should think of impeaching DeBlasio. I believe there is no other option when a pure incompetent is running the biggest city in the world.

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