De Blasio under fire from all sides after NYPD handling of George Floyd protests

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability at City Hall on Thursday, June 4, 2020. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

The George Floyd protests have raged throughout the city for almost a week now, city Comptroller Scott Stringer and the Legal Aid Society are looking to hold the NYPD to account.

On Thursday morning Stringer, urged Mayor Bill de Blasio to rein in the department by cutting budget funds by $265 million per year over the course of four years to the tune of $1.1 billion. NYPD’s annual budget is about $6 billion.

So far in the fiscal year 2021 budget, de Blasio has only proposed a .31% cut to law enforcement.

“As New Yorkers and people across the country are crying out for justice, your proposal utterly fails to meet the moment, much less bring any imagination to how we might be able to shift both responsibilities and dollars away from the NYPD toward vulnerable communities most impacted by police violence and structural racism,” Stringer said in a letter to de Blasio.

Stringer proposes putting the funds into providing resources to vulnerable communities and reducing the force by attrition.

In an even more scathing statement, Legal Aid Society issued a statement claiming the protests were an opportunity for the mayor to rise to the occasion. Instead, they claim, his administration restricts the rights of peaceful protestors, putting many in harms way through over-policing.

Legal Aid is calling on anyone subject or witness to police misconduct to call them at (212) 577-3300 for assistance filing with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

“Under the guise of protecting store owners from looters, Mayor Bill de Blasio has criminalized the constitutional right to express outrage over the murder of George Floyd and systemic racist policing,” the statement said. “Dozens, if not hundreds, of non-violent protesters were arrested in Manhattan strictly for violating curfew. Mayor de Blasio could and should have stood with protesters. Instead, he has given the green light to the NYPD to suppress the right of the people to protest. In so doing, the Mayor has abdicated any moral authority to govern this city. This curfew is clearly about a desire to clamp down on the protests – not the looting – and Mayor de Blasio is disingenuous to suggest otherwise.”

Even the mayor’s own staff seems to be taking aim at the de Blasio, with the handling of protests being the final disappointment as indicated in an open letter from a number of employees in his administration.

“None of us joined the de Blasio Administration believing this mayor would be radical on criminal justice policy. That was apparent from the moment he hired Bill Bratton to be his police commissioner. But we saw in Bill de Blasio a chance for real change,” the letter said. “We saw up close the Administration’s unwillingness to challenge the abuses of the NYPD—the Mayor’s refusal to fire Daniel Pantaleo for choking the life out of Eric Garner, the continuation of the failed “Broken Windows” policing strategy that criminalizes our Black and brown communities, the rejection of even basic accountability measures like making information public about police officers accused of misconduct.”

The letter makes mention of de Blasio’s opposition to stop-and-frisk as a hopeful start, but stated that as crime rates went down and the NYPD budget ballooned by an additional $1 billion during his tenure, it became apparent the reforms were a forlorn hope.

The full letter can be read here.