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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio brushed off criticism from current and former city officials in proclaiming that his is the “strongest mayoralty” in the United States.
“This is the strongest mayoralty in the country, in every sense, and the strongest city in the country, in every sense, and we can persevere through all sorts of challenges and we will. So I’m quite confident in what we can do in the next year and a half,” de Blasio said Friday during his daily press briefing.
The bold statement comes after some of his own staff blasted publicly in letters as well as with an unprecedented march across the Brooklyn Bridge over his government’s responses to citywide protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis last month.
De Blasio noted, in response to a question about the criticism from a reporter, that he “respects” differences of opinion.
“When you’re mayor of a city of over 8 million people, you better be able to handle different opinions, strong opinions, criticism, passion, emotion… There are critics who are wrong, there are critics who real insights.
“In the political world, sometimes people act like your friend and they’re not. Sometimes people surprise you,” he added.
In addition, de Blasio said anyone who doubts his leadership doesn’t get it.
“I think anyone who questions the ability of this city government to do what we’re here to do — and my ability as mayor to use all the tools of city government even in a time of crisis — doesn’t really understand the reality of New York City,” he said.
“It’s been a very difficult few weeks, a lot of passions, a lot of deep feeling, a lot of strong views. I don’t take any of it lightly,” the mayor said.
City Councilman Donovan Richards, who is running for borough president in Queens, fired back sharply on Twitter. “Check your privilege, Mr. Mayor,” he wrote.
“I was born and raised in Southeast Queens with multiple NYPD encounters. Including being stopped and frisked at 13 years old with guns drawn on me. Name your first NYPD experience @NYCMayor,” Richards continued.
I was born and raised in Southeast Queens with multiple NYPD encounters. Including being stopped and frisked at 13 years old with guns drawn on me. Name your first NYPD experience @NYCMayor? #Privilege
— Donovan Richards (@DrichardsQns) June 12, 2020
Another council member turned the disagreements into a race issue.
“Is it time to remove this white man from office? #askingforafriend,” Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn) tweeted.
— 🦋Carlos Menchaca 萬齊家 (@cmenchaca) June 12, 2020
The NYPD also was not happy with the way in which de Blasio initially handled rioting and violent protests over the Floyd incident, after he called on police to respond with a “light touch” after suggesting he agrees with the protesters.
“The anger out there is real and unfortunately, very justified,” he told WNYC May 31. “I really believe the NYPD knows how to handle protests and respect whoever is protesting, but I want to see a light touch because people are undeniably angry for a reason.”
The Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) responded in a tweet, “If Mayor DeBlasio wants a light touch then let him stand in front and take the first brick to the face. Or perhaps he can sit in a police vehicle and catch the Malatov [sic] Cocktail that’s thrown into it. Here’s the light touch, DeBlasio brain!”
If Mayor DeBlasio wants a light touch then let him stand in front and take the first brick to the face. Or perhaps he can sit in a police vehicle and catch the Malatov Cocktail that’s thrown into it. Here’s the light touch, DeBlasio brain! https://t.co/Dqqm3PgSrV
— SBA (@SBANYPD) May 30, 2020
NYPD van ablaze are Dekalb and Fort Greene Place, video provided by a law enforcement source. pic.twitter.com/Za56Kc714y
— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) May 30, 2020
Following a night of violence, de Blasio further undermined cops when he pledged an “independent review” after more than 200 alleged rioters were arrested.
“We have a long night ahead of us in Brooklyn,” the mayor tweeted. “Our sole focus is deescalating this situation and getting people home safe. There will be a full review of what happened tonight. We don’t ever want to see another night like this.
We have a long night ahead of us in Brooklyn. Our sole focus is deescalating this situation and getting people home safe. There will be a full review of what happened tonight. We don’t ever want to see another night like this.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) May 30, 2020
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