Mayor de Blasio went on a drawn-out rant Friday against his critics on the left, claiming he’s not getting enough credit for his progressive achievements following two Republican administrations and insisting his values haven’t changed.
“I don’t resemble Michael Bloomberg or Rudy Giuliani in criminal justice. We’ve taken the city in an entirely different direction – and it’s working. And crime is down,” the mayor bellowed on WNYC radio.
“Can someone tell me when more criminal justice reform happened in New York City? I just think it’s absolutely unfair to miss the changes.”
The mayor teed off after host Brian Lehrer asked him about a string of criticisms he’s faced from the left, including for bringing Amazon to Queens without a public review process and for not criticizing cops in the wild arrest of a mom clutching her baby at a city social services center.
Hizzoner also dismissed suggestions that he became reluctant to criticize the NYPD after hundreds of police officers turned their backs on him at funerals for two slain cops in late 2014.
Police union leaders said the mayor’s rhetoric following the killing of Eric Garner at the hands of police had created an anti-cop atmosphere ahead of the assassinations of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn on December 20, 2014.
“One of the things I really disagree with is some people have said, ‘Oh, you know the police, certain officers — it was a small number of officers — turned their back a few years ago and that changed your attitude,’” the mayor said.
“It hasn’t changed my attitude one bit. Does anyone remember all the other protests that have happened outside my house, City Hall, my gym for years and years? It hasn’t changed my approach one bit.”
He pointed to his immediate criticism of the NYPD’s shooting of a 66-year-old schizophrenic woman in her Bronx home in October 2016 — more than two years ago — as proof that he’s willing to call out mistakes by officers.
But he strenuously rejected complaints about his slow response earlier this week to the video of NYPD and social service officers arresting Jazmine Headley at a public benefits office — including by trying to rip her 1-year-old from her arms — and blasted a New York Times editorial on the matter as “wildly inaccurate.”
The video went viral on Sunday, but the mayor wouldn’t speak to reporters about it the next day at 1 pm, and only tweeted hours later that it was “disturbing.”
Later in the week he singled out the peace officers of the Human Resources Administration for criticism, but refused to address the response of two NYPD officers — including one who pointed a yellow taser at clients in the public benefits office.
“I heard about it on Sunday night. By early Monday afternoon, after consulting with the agencies, I said it was ‘disturbing,’ we’re going to figure out what happened, we’re going to fix it,” the mayor said.
“As I got more information — and the difference between me and other elected officials, Brian, bluntly, is I’m in charge. It’s very easy to critique when you’re not in charge. When you’re in charge you better get your facts straight,” he continued.
“So that’s why I don’t jump in the first hour all the time to say what might be convenient or populist. I say what is the truth when I know the truth.”
As he often does, the mayor criticized the news media for not highlighting his administration’s accomplishments — including a decrease of 100,000 arrests between 2013 and 2017. He said it should have been front page news.
But he also said activists and advocates on the left — a major base of support when he ran for mayor in 2013 — would never be satisfied “by definition.”
At one point Hizzoner even called the hush-hush deal to bring Amazon to Queens “progressive.”
The deal, including nearly $3 billion in state and city benefits to the company, has been widely criticized by the left — including de Blasio pal Senator Bernie Sanders and incoming Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“If we get 25,000 to 40,000 jobs for people who need jobs, including public housing residents and CUNY students, that is progressive!” the mayor argued. “That’s progressive!”
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