Public advocate calls mayor ‘delusional’ for failing to recognize police violence during protests

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Public Advocate Jumaane Williams tries to calm situations at Flatbush Brooklyn demonstration. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Councilmember Brad Lander denounced Mayor Bill de Blasio for saying NYPD officers have shown “restraint” and for dismissing reports of officers beating peaceful protesters, medics, and legal aids with batons without provocation to enforce the city’s 8 p.m. curfew. 

“I’ve seen things that I can’t explain,” said Williams during a Zoom press conference with Lander. “I guess at this point the mayor is just delusional.” 

Both elected officials marched alongside protesters in Brooklyn Thursday night. The peaceful demonstration took a violent turn about two and a half hours after curfew.  At around 9:30 p.m., dozens of officers in riot gear followed protesters down Atlantic. At one point, a female commanding officer arrested a protester after grabbing him off his bicycle for no apparent reason. Once protesters reached Fulton St. and Washington Ave. in Clinton Hill, another commanding officer began hitting another protester on a bicycle and pushed him into a fence to arrest him, again without provocation.  A swarm of officers, knocking over other marchers and a journalist in their way, came to assist in his arrest. 

“To hear the mayor say with his eyes, he was not out there,  he saw something different than what our eyes out there saw…I don’t know what to call that other than gaslighting,” said Lander. “There were cops who you could see in their eyes were ready to come in,” said Lander. “So, it’s not hard to imagine what might have happened if, and what almost happened.” 

Both the public advocate and councilmember called for lighter touches on protesters and the lifting of the 8:00 p.m. curfew arguing that the measure was adding unnecessary tension. Instead, Williams, who is second in line for mayor, called for de Blasio to “step up” and show real leadership and make good on promises made during his initial campaign for mayor where he won on a platform to reform the city’s aggressive policing tactics used under former mayor Michael Bloomberg. 

 “You’re not even trying, I don’t know how much you care at this point to put forth a plan, I guess its good for you to show up to a George Floyd memorial but where is your plan?” said Williams. “You can no longer hide behind your Black wife and children, you’re exposed now,” Williams added.

Some attribute de Blasio’s mayoral victory to a 2013 ad campaign that highlighted his biracial family. The roughly 30-second long ad features de Blasio’s then 15-year-old son Dante sporting a large Afro discussing how his father was the only candidate brave enough to dismantle Bloomberg era policing policies like stop-and-frisk. 

“At a time when we need your leadership, it is not there,” said Williams.