NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio took a harsher tone on Monday against NYPD officials accused of excessive power during protests that have swept the city, even as he said he was considering the possibility of curfew after plunder broke out in Manhattan.
The mayor, who originally defended the NYPD’s handling of protests against George Floyd’s death, said he would push for faster discipline against problem agents. The mayor’s own daughter, Chiara de Blasio, was arrested during a protest on Saturday.
“There are some who do not belong in this job. And there are some who use force when they should not. There are some who do not respect the people they serve. There are some who have racism in their hearts, de Blasio said. “These people should not be in the police force. And it’s our job to get them out. “
De Blasio turned the course after first defending cops seen on the video plowing into a crowd of protesters with his SUVs.
“There is no situation where a police vehicle should run into a crowd of protesters or New Yorkers of any kind. It’s dangerous. It is unacceptable, says de Blasio, who in previous comments had signposted protesters for the event.
Other videos have shown that officers forcefully shoot a young woman to the ground, open a car door and hit protesters, pull down a man’s mask and pepper that spray him and pull a gun toward a crowd.
The mayor said that the officer who pulled the gun would be immediately removed from his gun and badge.
“It’s unacceptable. That’s dangerous, de Blasio said. “That official should remove his gun and badge today. It will be investigated immediately to determine the major consequences. “
The NYPD’s disciplinary process is usually slow, with many safeguards built in to protect the rights of accused officials in the process and little openness to the public. De Blasio said on Monday that the process should be speeded up, but left no details.
“Discipline must be measured in all cases where it is deserved,” he said. “There has to be a faster discipline process. Every time an officer is alleged to have done something inappropriate there must be an immediate investigation, immediate consequences. It always takes too long. It makes people so frustrated, so angry. “
He also demanded that the state legislature repeal a law cited by his administration to keep police disciplinary records secret and replace it with more limited protection of police personal information.
“We need 50-a repealed. Let’s do it in June, he said.
At the same time, de Blasio said he is considering imposing a curfew, a step that several other US cities have taken. Late Sunday evening, there was a looting of stores in SoHo and other Manhattan neighborhoods, the first widespread looting that has taken place in the city during four days of protests.
“We have to see it as an alternative,” he said. “We haven’t made a decision.”
De Blasio said he would discuss the possibility of a curfew with Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and statesman Andrew Cuomo.
Looting “is not allowed in New York City. We will deal with it very, very aggressively,” he said.
Cuomo, at a later news conference in the city Monday, said he has the judicial authority to impose a curfew, but is “not at that point.” But he added, “something has to be done because the evening was not acceptable and the night before was not acceptable at any level.”
The governor said he has the National Guard in “standby”.
“They are trained to do this. But I do not know that there is a personal problem in New York City. In Minneapolis there was a person power. They just don’t have a police force large enough to handle it, “the governor told reporters. “I don’t know that the NYPD isn’t big enough – I don’t think that’s the problem.”
Earlier in the day, a calmer tone prevailed during protests around the city. The mayor praised police officers as took one knee in solidarity with protesters.
De Blasio also addressed the arrest of his daughter, 25, whom he did not know until reporters contacted his office about it.
“I admire that she was out trying to change something she thought was unfair and doing it in a peaceful way,” he said. “I respect my daughter, I honor her and I know her heart. … She was very clear that she thought she followed the police instructions and did what they asked. “
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of New York in the midst of an ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 21,000 city dwellers. The city is scheduled to start opening its economy again in a week, but de Blasio, who has said little about the general health risks of the protests, warned that they could provide further spread of the disease.
“I’m very, very worried about the health effects,” he said. “There is a real danger here. There is no doubt that this could intensify the spread of coronavirus just at a point where we started to fight it back.”
De Blasio said he has been reluctant to thwart protests because he does not want to put out minimizing protesters’ complaints.
“This moment is the outpouring of such pain and frustration, years and years, decades, generations of pain and frustration,” he said. But for those who have already spent days protesting, he added: “You have made your point. It’s time to stay home. If you go out, feel free to try any way you can to observe social distance and continue with these facings. “