Mayor calls for badge of officer who pulled gun on Manhattan protesters

Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office


Mayor Bill de Blasio called for the firing of a police officer who pulled his gun on protesters in Manhattan Sunday night, amid ongoing protests against police violence.

“It is not the place of an officer to pull a gun in the middle of a crowd, knowing that there are peaceful protesters in that crowd. That is unacceptable, that is dangerous,” said de Blasio at his daily press briefing Monday. “That officer should have his gun and badge taken away today.”

The police officer pulled his handgun and pointed it at protesters outside the Strand Book Store on 12th Street and Broadway, before putting the firearm back in its holster, video posted on Twitter by a Gothamist reporter shows.

Hizzoner said there would be an immediate investigation into the incident, which happened on the fourth consecutive night of protests across the city in response to the police-involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

A spokeswoman for police said the department was also conducting an internal review of the incident.

The Twitter account of New York Attorney General Tish James replied to the post soliciting a formal complaint but her press office did not immediately confirm whether she was also separately investigating it.

During his Monday presser, de Blasio generally drew a harsher tone toward violent police actions caught on camera during recent protests and amended his stance, slightly, on the cops who plowed a pair of cruisers into a crowd on Flatbush and St. Marks avenues in Prospect Heights on Saturday.


“I don’t think I expressed it as well as I should have so I want to try again,” said de Blasio, who previously shied away from condemning the incident outright, arguing that protesters surrounded the SUVs. “There is no situation where a police vehicle should drive into a crowd of protesters or New Yorkers of any kind. It is dangerous, it is unacceptable.”

The city’s Corporation Counsel James Johnson and the Department of Investigation will look into the incident, the mayor said, and there will be an internal review by the NYPD. 

The mayor said Monday that there would also be review of any incident where an officer did something wrong, referencing a video in which an officer can be seen shoving a young woman to the ground seemingly unprovoked, causing her to suffer a seizure, and another in which an officer opened his car door into a protester as he drove by.

De Blasio also said he is discussing a possible curfew with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, as several further protests are planned in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

“We have to look at it as an option, but that being said we have not made a decision,” de Blasio said. “There are advantages and disadvantages — to say the least — to instituting a curfew. Previous nights were different than what we saw last night so we’re weighing that right now.”

Protests filled the city streets, mainly in Brooklyn and Manhattan for the third night Sunday, starting peacefully, but with more violence by police and protesters after nightfall, as well as some looting.

Cops cuffed almost 400 people Sunday evening, according to Commissioner Shea, who — along with de Blasio — repeated the claim that “outside agitators” were to blame for the violence, without providing specific evidence that that was the case.

“We’re trying to be that even keel in respecting the right to protest in dealing with cowards, if you will, that are hijacking a cause and look to do ill will to New Yorkers,” Shea said.

When asked to provide details on how they knew that they were from out of town, the commissioner said that they gathered “intelligence” from arrests, as well as information that was openly available.

De Blasio said those people were mostly white and young, coming from out of town or going to neighborhoods they weren’t from, but he said he could not discern a coherent ideology among them.

“What we’re seeing, certainly from the people coming out of town, were primarily white people and certainly from some the young people that we have seen who are not from the neighborhoods and go into the neighborhoods and do violence, they happen to be white people as well,” he said. “I struggle to categorize their ideology because it doesn’t resemble anything that I have ever seen as a coherent philosophy but I do know they want to cause destruction.”

Among those police arrested over the weekend was De Blasio’s 25-year-old daughter Chiara, whom police cuffed Saturday night after she had been allegedly blocking traffic and refused to move, the New York Post reported.

De Blasio said he was aware that she was protesting but hadn’t heard about her arrest until a journalist reached out to his office for comment. Chiara de Blasio was out protesting peacefully against injustice, the mayor said, adding that he respected her for doing so.

“I love my daughter deeply, I honor her she is such a good human being she only wants to do good in the world, she wants to see a better and more peaceful world,” he said. “I’m proud of her that she cares so much and she’s willing to go out there and do something about it.”

This story first appeared on brooklynpaper.com.