- Was an ardent supporter of Nicaragua's Marxist Sandinista government in the 1980s
- Describes himself as an advocate of “democratic socialism”
- Was executive director of the New York branch of the pro-socialist New Party
- Served as the New York/New Jersey regional director of the Clinton administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1997-99
- Was campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2000 U.S. Senate bid.
- Served on the New York City Council from 2001-09
- Was elected as New York City's third Public Advocate in 2009
- Was deeply influenced by liberation theology
- Was elected mayor of New York City in 2013
See also: New Party Charles Rangel Hillary Clinton
Bertha Lewis Talking Transition
Early Life and Name Change
Bill de Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm Jr. on May 8, 1961 in New York City and grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Shortly after graduating with a bachelor's degree from New York University in 1983, he legally changed his name to Warren de Blasio-Wilhelm, adding his mother's maiden name to his identity. In 2002 he changed his name for a second time and became Bill de Blasio.
Historian Ron Radosh describes de Blasio as: (a) "a far left radical whose ancestors are the New Left and the Communists"; and (b) "a bona fide red diaper baby" who, "like many of his generation ... kept his parents' ... pro-Communist politics not far from his heart." Both of de Blasio’s parents were far leftists—most likely, members of the Communist Party USA or some of its numerous front groups. His mother, Maria de Blasio, worked in the early 1940s at the Office of War Information—a U.S. government agency staffed largely by pro-Soviet leftists who depicted the USSR in a positive light.
SUPPORTER OF COMMUNIST & ANTI-AMERICAN CAUSES IN THE 1980'S
In 1983, while he was still at NYU, Bill de Blasio toured parts of the Communist Soviet Union. This was a period of significant Cold War tension between the United States and the USSR, as the Soviets were attempting to permanently solidify their nuclear superiority over the U.S. Notably, de Blasio at one time served as an organizer with the anti-nuclear, anti-American organization Physicians for Social Responsibility.
De Blasio took his first job in 1984 with the NYC Department of Juvenile Justice. Three years later, having recently earned a master's degree at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, he was hired to work as a political organizer by the Quixote Center (QC), a Maryland-based, Catholic social-justice organization with Marxist leanings.
In 1988 de Blasio, an ardent supporter of Nicaragua's Marxist Sandinista government—which was backed by the Soviet Union, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, and Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization—joined a number of his QC colleagues in a ten-day trip to Nicaragua to help distribute food and medicine to people who had been affected by the violent revolution that was raging there. (The Reagan administration, meanwhile, was giving financial and military aid to the Contras, who were seeking to overthrow the Sandinista regime.)
Upon returning home from Nicaragua, de Blasio began working for a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care in Central America. Continuing, moreover, to support the Sandinistas in whatever way he could, he joined the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York, an organization that held meetings and fundraisers on their behalf. De Blasio also subscribed to the Sandinista party’s newspaper, Barricadda. He continues to speak admiringly of the Sandinistas to this day, lauding the “humble” and “really inspirational” blend of “youthful energy and idealism” that they brought to the task of “trying to figure out what would [make their society] work better.” “I’m very proud to have been deeply involved in a movement that rightfully thought U.S. policy toward Central America was wrong-headed and counter-productive and not in line with our values,” de Blasio said in September 2013. “I’m proud to have been involved in the effort that was challenging that.”
POLITICAL ALLIANCES, 1989-2000
In 1989 de Blasio served as a volunteer coordinator for the NYC mayoral campaign of Democrat David Dinkins. Following Dinkins' victory, de Blasio became an aide in City Hall.
The New Party
When asked in 1990 to describe his political views, de Blasio replied that he was an advocate of “democratic socialism.” In the mid-nineties, he served as executive director of the New York branch of the New Party, a pro-socialist, ACORN-affiliated entity to which Barack Obama likewise belonged.
Charles Rangel; Cuba
In 1994 de Blasio managed New York Congressman Charles Rangel's re-election campaign. When de Blasio married former lesbian activist Chirlane McCray that same year, the couple honeymooned in Fidel Castro's Cuba, in violation of the U.S. ban on travel to that country.
Bill Clinton & Al Gore
In 1996 de Blasio ran the New York state operation for the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.
From 1997-99 de Blasio served as the New York/New Jersey regional director of the Clinton administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he served under HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo. During that period, said HUD inspector general Susan Gaffney, de Blasio's region lost approximately $23 million to scams perpetrated by public-housing officials, mortgage companies, and nonprofit groups that received grants from HUD. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported that in 1998-99, several people had defrauded HUD of $70 million in federally insured loans on more than 250 New York properties.
De Blasio left HUD in 1999 to become campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2000 U.S. Senate bid.
NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL MEMBER
From 2001-09 de Blasio served on the New York City Council, representing District 39 in Brooklyn.
Honoring Robert Mugabe
In 2002 de Blasio joined a number of fellow legislators—mostly from the City Council’s Black, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus—in a City Hall ceremony honoring Robert Mugabe, the openly anti-white, Marxist dictator of Zimbabwe.
In 2009 de Blasio was elected as New York City's third Public Advocate. His candidacy was supported by the SEIU, UNITE HERE!, and the pro-socialist Working Families Party.
Supporter of ACORN
In September 2009, when the community organization ACORN was engulfed in several major scandals involving voter-registration-fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and racketeering, de Blasio wrote a letter to ACORN's leaders reaffirming his support for the organization, though noting that he was “troubled” by the recent revelations.
Opposed the Citizens United Supreme Court Decision
De Blasio was a vocal opponent of the January 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which: (a) struck down a ban on corporations and labor unions using money from their general funds to produce and air campaign ads in races for congressional and presidential races, and (b) overturned a prohibition against corporations and unions airing campaign ads during the 30 days immediately preceding a primary or the 60 days preceding a general election.
Supporter of Occupy Wall Street
In the fall of 2011 de Blasio expressed solidarity with the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street movement.
RUNNING FOR NEW YORK CITY MAYOR
Support from Prominent Leftists
In January 2013 de Blasio announced his candidacy for Mayor of New York City. His campaign received endorsements from such notables as Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Jerrold Nadler, Barack Obama, Sarah Jessica Parker, Susan Sarandon, Charles Schumer, George Soros, Kathleen Turner, and many others. After de Blasio won the Democratic primary that September, it was announced that he would also be the nominee on the Working Families Party line in the general election.
Patrick Gaspard, a former New Party staffer and Obama administration official with significant ties to ACORN, is a close friend of de Blasio and played a key role in shaping the latter's mayoral campaign.
In August 2013, de Blasio received the endorsement of the billionaire financier George Soros, who contributed the legal limit of $4,950 to the campaign. Soros’ relationship with de Blasio actually dated back to 2011, when Soros had given $400,000 to de Blasio’s Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending.
After de Blasio's primary victory in September 2013, longtime ACORN leader Bertha Lewis, who said that her political and ideological ties to de Blasio “go back a long time,” predicted a comeback for ACORN’s successor group in New York—New York Communities for Change—under a de Blasio administration. According to a Democratic insider, “ACORN’s long-range plan since 2001 was to elect de Blasio mayor. De Blasio was a big ACORN project.”
A Self-Described "Progressive" Influenced by Liberation Theology
As he pursued the office of NYC mayor, de Blasio was a self-described “progressive” whose political views represented a blend of European social democracy, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and liberation theology. (The latter was a Soviet KGB creation in the late 1960s, designed to infiltrate Christianity with Marxist principles.) “I’m ... very deeply influenced by liberation theology, which I learned a lot about in the years I worked on Latin America,” said de Blasio.
Openly Advocating "The Heavy Hand of Government"
Several weeks before the mayoral election, de Blasio delivered an hour-long presentation to some of the city’s largest real-estate developers. Describing how he planned to govern, he stated flatly: “Everything you heard about me is true.... I am not a free-marketeer.... I believe in the heavy hand of government.”
Lauding Al Sharpton
In early October 2013, de Blasio made a campaign appearance at Al Sharpton's National Action Network in New York. In the course of his remarks, the mayoral candidate said “we do need to tax the wealthy ... to be able to fix our schools,” and added: “The voices that speak so passionately about addressing inequality head-on are in fact the greatest patriots in our nation, and none greater than Reverend Sharpton.”
Settling a Lawsuit by Defendants in the Central Park Jogger Case
Also during his campaign, de Blasio called for New York City to settle a $250 million lawsuit filed by five black males whom Sharpton had defended a quarter-century earlier, when they were convicted of the 1989 rape of a white female jogger in Central Park. That conviction, however, was overturned in 2002 when another man, Matias Reyes, who was already serving a life prison sentence, confessed to having committed the crime alone. The New York Post provides some additional background on that case and the five men in question:
"The five, teenagers at the time, were convicted largely on the strength of their graphic and detailed confessions, which they later recanted but which were captured on videotape in the presence of their parents or guardians. Some repeated their confessions years later at parole hearings. And even Morgenthau [District Attorney Robert Morganthau, who vacated the convictions after Reyes's confession] himself concluded that, contrary to the five’s later allegations, there had been no coercion or misconduct in the way their confessions had been obtained."
For explicit details about the confessions of the five youths in question -- and about their obvious involvement in the 1989 assault -- click here.
In accordance with de Blasio's instructions, the case was eventually settled for $40 million, dwarfing past wrongful-conviction payouts by New York City.
Real Estate Impropriety
In October 2013, the New York Post reported that de Blasio, who owned two row houses in New York City worth over $1.1 million apiece: (a) had not registered his two-unit Brooklyn rental property with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development as required by law, and (b) had failed to report his rental income in his annual financial-disclosure filings, as also was required by law. Said the Post, de Blasio "has not disclosed any rental income on filings dating back to 2007, according to records from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board." In response to the Post's revelations, de Blasio campaign spokesman Wiley Norvell said: "He declares the property as an asset on his filing, but the property has a negative income when you add up the depression of water and upkeep." Crain’s reported that de Blasio’s 2011 tax return showed $47,500 in rental income and $62,200 in deductions for the property.
MAYOR DE BLASIO
On November 5, 2013, de Blasio was elected mayor of New York in a landslide victory that saw him capture 73% of all votes. At a post-election celebration, he told a group of supporters:
“My fellow New Yorkers, today, you spoke out loudly and clearly for a new direction for our city. Make no mistake: The people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight we set forth on it, together.”
CPUSA Celebrates De Blasio Victory
De Blasio's election was welcomed by the Communist Party USA publication People's World, which celebrated the "joy of a new day for New York"; stated that "the De Blasio victory has offered new hope that a national progressive shift on tackling the wealth and racial inequities plaguing our country's cities is in the making"; and noted that "the crisis of the cities is rooted in capitalism."
In the immediate aftermath of de Blasio's election victory, a George Soros-funded project known as Talking Transition sprang into action to promote the mayor-elect and to invite New Yorkers to communicate their ideas and concerns to him.
Lauding Al Sharpton
In one of his first speeches as mayor-elect, de Blasio again visited Al Sharpton's National Action Network and stated: “Every year Reverend Sharpton is becoming stronger as a leader, is reaching farther as a leader. You never have to wonder if he will remember where he came from, and he’ll be the first one up to stand up for justice. I gotta tell you guys, he’s a blessing for all of us. Let’s thank Reverend Sharpton.”
Defending the Welfare State
As he prepared to take the reins of New York City government, de Blasio made it clear that he rejected virtually every key element of welfare reform. For example:
- He derided the notion that able-bodied, childless welfare recipients should work (or at least look for work) in exchange for their benefits, as an “ideological hang-up” that blocked a “path out of poverty.”
- He vowed to “stop efforts” by city case workers “to divert individuals from accessing cash assistance” rather than seeking employment.
- He planned to use Obamacare outreach workers to enroll more New Yorkers on a multitude of government welfare programs.
- He stated that New York's total of 1.9 million food-stamp recipients—21% of the city's population—was at least 250,000 too low.
- He condemned eligibility-verification measures such as finger-imaging and in-person interviews of welfare applicants—practices designed to combat welfare fraud—as “stigmatizing.”
- Rejecting an ethos of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency, de Blasio's mayoral blueprint declared: “Providing basic income and food security to all New Yorkers [is] a key responsibility of government.”
Bill and Hillary Clinton both attended de Blasio's swearing-in ceremony as New York City mayor on January 1, 2014. Mr. Clinton, in fact, officially administered the oath-of-office to de Blasio, using a bible once owned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
At de Blasio's inauguration, a prayer was delivered by prison chaplain Askia Muhammad, a former Nation of Islam member and a supporter of Louis Farrakhan. Also at the inaugural ceremony, Sanitation Department chaplain Fred Lucas Jr. prayed that "the plantation called New York City" might be transformed into "the city of God." New York Public Advocate Letitia James lamented that “we live in a gilded age of inequality where decrepit homeless shelters and housing developments stand in the neglected shadow of gleaming multimillion-dollar condos.” And de Blasio himself declared:
“When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it. I will honor the faith and trust you have placed in me. And we will give life to the hope of so many in our city. We will succeed ... as one city.... We will require big developers to build more affordable housing. We’ll fight to stem the tide of hospital closures. And we’ll expand community health centers into neighborhoods in need, so that New Yorkers see our city not as the exclusive domain of the 1 Percent, but a place where everyday people can afford to live, work and raise a family. We won’t wait. We’ll do it now.”
Appointing a Sharpton Ally
In one of his first moves as mayor, de Blasio appointed Zachary W. Carter as Corporation Counsel for the City of New York. Carter had previously represented Al Sharpton in his tax fraud case, and once moderated a panel titled “Closing Guantanamo: Terrorism and Civil Liberties in the Age of Obama” for Sharpton’s National Action Network.
Denouncing the "Inequality Crisis"
At a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting on January 23, 2014, de Blasio said that the U.S. was "in the midst of an inequality crisis." He added that because Washington, DC "has been gripped in a frustrating paralysis," Americans were looking "to the mayors of this country to address the root causes of inequality."
Illegal Immigrant Rights
In his first State of the City speech on February 10, 2014, de Blasio spoke forcefully on behalf of the rights of illegal immigrants:
"We will protect the almost half-million undocumented New Yorkers, whose voices too often go unheard. We will reach out to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status — issuing municipal ID cards available to all New Yorkers this year — so that no daughter or son of our city goes without bank accounts, leases, library cards ... simply because they lack identification. To all of my fellow New Yorkers who are undocumented, I say: New York City is your home too, and we will not force ANY of our residents to live their lives in the shadows."
Legal Intervention on Behalf of Pastor Who Was a Key Political Supporter of De Blasio
On the night of February 10, 2014 (at 11:21 pm), Bishop Orlando Findlayter, a politically connected Brooklyn pastor who had played a key role in galvanizing black voters to support de Blasio's 2013 mayoral campaign, was driving in East Flatbush (Brooklyn) when he was pulled over by police for making a left turn without signaling. The officer at the scene then ran Findlayter's license number and discovered two outstanding warrants, issued nearly four weeks earlier, for failure to appear in court for prior arrests (which were made at public protest demonstrations). Thus Findlayter was arrested on the spot and was charged not only for the traffic violation, but also for driving without a license. Because his arrest came at an hour when it was too late to be arraigned, he should, by law, have spent the night in jail.
But Findlayter's clergy friends, upon learning of the incident, quickly reached out to Mayor de Blasio, who in turn called top police officials and arranged for the bishop to be released immediately. Just hours later, on the morning of February 15, Findlayter sat with de Blasio at the head table at a Bedford-Stuyvesant breakfast, where Al Sharpton was a guest speaker.
Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevelent Association, subsequently objected to how the Findlayter matter had been handled: “If a guy has a warrant, you don’t let him go. Period. There is no ‘discretion.’ What if you release him [and] he drives a block, blows a red light and runs somebody over and kills him?... He [de Blasio] just confirmed that it really is a ‘tale of two cities’”—a reference to de Blasio’s oft-repeated campaign slogan.
DeBlasio Vehicle Is Filmed Speeding Through NYC Streets
On February 18, 2014, de Blasio publicly announced a new “Vision Zero” plan designed to eliminate traffic deaths in NYC by reducing traffic speeds within the city from 30 mph to 25 mph, and by cracking down aggressively on speeding by cab drivers. “The likelihood of a fatal crash, and this statistic is very powerful, the likelihood of a fatal crash drops significantly for speeds below 30 mph,” said de Blasio. “If we get those speeds down, it will be the difference between losing a life and saving a life.” “We’ve put a very bold plan before you,” the mayor emphasized, “and we want the public to know we’re holding ourselves to this standard—and we intend to achieve these goals.”
Just two days later, however, a CBS news crew filmed a two-car caravan that included de Blasio’s SUV (in which the mayor was riding in the front passenger seat) speeding through the streets of Queens, blowing through two stop signs without even tapping the brakes, and changing highway lanes without signaling.
At various points, de Blasio's car was clocked going 40 to 45 mph in a 30 mph zone, and 60 mph in a 45 mph zone. CBS News's Marcia Kramer reported that if a police officer had been following the mayor's car, and had issued tickets for each of the various infractions that had been committed, the lead driver would have racked up 13 points on his license—more than the 11 points necessary for a license suspension.
Appointing Radicals to His Administration
In January 2014, de Blasio selected the NYC Department for the Aging's then-deputy commissioner, Bill Chong, a former member of the Communist Workers Party, to serve as commissioner of New York's Department of Youth and Community Development. Chong had previously been board president of Asian Americans for Equality and had worked on Jesse Jackson's 1984 presidential campaign.
In the spring of 2014 de Blasio appointed a woman named Kicy Motley, who had been a volunteer coordinator for his 2013 campaign, as a new mayoral aide. Motley had a history of publicly tweeting controversial -- and sometimes obscene -- messages regarding what she perceived to be matters involving racism, injustice, corporate greed, and police misconduct. For example:
- On August 11 2012, after NYPD officers had shot and killed Darrius Kennedy, a 51-year-old, knife-wielding black man on Seventh Avenue, Motley wrote on Twitter: "NYPD fatally shoot knife-wielding man in Times Square. (VIDEO) F–k. The. Police."
- On another occasion she derided the NAACP for siding with soft-drink manufacturers against NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on the sale of large sodas. Wrote Motley: "@NAACP aka corporate d–k riders. Standing with soda makers for a few bucks."
- In February 2013 Motley came to the defense of a deranged, black Los Angeles police officer named Chris Dorner, who at that time was the target of a massive manhunt because he had recently killed four people in a shooting rampage motivated by his belief that the LAPD had fired him because it was a racist agency. Motley tweeted: "There’s a part of me rooting for #Dorner. This racist, imperialist country gets the best of people sometimes. It makes some snap. #lapd."
Lauding Al Sharpton
On April 9, 2014, de Blasio spoke on the opening day of the National Action Network's annual conference in New York, saying: "I just want everyone to know I am proud to stand with Rev. Sharpton. Because to borrow a phrase from our youth, Reverend, 'you're the real thing' ... [Sharpton's] work gets more powerful with every passing year: He reaches more people, he has a greater impact."
Disbanding the NYPD Unit That Monitored Local Muslim Communities
On April 15, 2014—the first anniversary of the deadly Boston Marathon bombing—the de Blasio administration announced that it was disbanding the NYPD's Demographics Unit, which had been tasked with tracking the daily lives of Muslims in an effort to detect terror threats. As USA Today reported: "[The Unit] assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Plainclothes officers infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons, and cataloged Muslims in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames."
De Blasio characterized the termination of the Demographics Units as "a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys."
De Blasio's Small Income-Tax Payment
Also in April 2014, the Daily Caller reported that de Blasio, who in 2013 had earned $165,000 as the city’s public advocate and another $52,000 in rental income, had paid only 8.3% of his total income in federal taxes for that year. At the time, he owned two row houses in New York City worth over $1.1 million apiece.
Rolling Back Welfare Reform
In May 2014, New York City's Human Resources Administration (HRA) announced that it was requesting—in compliance with Mayor de Blasio's campaign pledge—a waiver from a federal law that required able-bodied, childless adults to work or to participate in a work-placement program for 20 hours per week in order to remain eligible for food-stamp assistance. In short, food stamps would now become an entitlement without any conditions.
The HRA also stated that, starting that summer, it would forbid food-stamp recipients in New York from seeking the assistance of job-placement agencies, even vountarily.
The Municipal ID Card Program for All New Yorkers, Including Illegal Immigrants
In July 2014, de Blasio signed into law a municipal ID-card program allowing all New Yorkers -- including the estmated 500,000 illegal immigrants residing in the city -- to access public services requiring identification. The mayor, who had consistently claimed that such a program would "bring dignity and peace of mind to many fellow residents currently living in the shadows," now re-emphasized: “We want all New Yorkers to feel very comfortable working with the police. We want them to be very able to identify themselves to police and do it in an atmosphere of safety. This is going to play a crucial role in deepening the relationship between police and community, including a lot of our immigrant communities.”
New York City Council member Daniel Dromm, the Democrat who authored de Blasio's ID-card legislation, acknowledged that the cards could possibly be used to allow non-citizens to vote. “It is a possibility that it may be a way we can have people for the first time when they come in to vote, if they are non-residents, non-citizens,” said Dromm in February 2014.
Lauding Al Sharpton
At Al Sharpton's 60th birthday celebration at the Four Seasons restaurant in New York City on October 1, 2014, de Blasio characterized Sharpton as “a blessing for this city,” adding: “The more people criticize him, the more I want to hang out with him.”
"Centuries of Racism": De Blasio Smears the Police
On December 3, 2014, a Staten Island grand jury decided not to bring a criminal case against a white New York City police officer who, five months earlier, had tried to arrest a black man named Eric Garner. But the encounter ended tragically when Garner died from what a medical examiner subsequently described as an interplay between the officer’s chokehold and Garner’s multiple chronic infirmities. In response to the grand jury's decision, de Blasio said: “This is now a national moment of grief, a national moment of pain and searching for a solution. And you've heard in so many places, people of all backgrounds utter the same basic phrase. They've said, 'Black lives matter.' And they said it because it had to be said.... It should be self-evident. But our history, sadly, requires us to say that black lives matter. Because as I said the other day, we're not just dealing with a problem in 2014. We're not dealing with years of racism leading up to it, or decades of racism. We are dealing with centuries of racism that have brought us to this day. That is how profound the crisis is."
Added de Blasio: "We have to have an honest conversation in this country about a history of racism, we have to have an honest conversation about the problems that have caused parents to feel that their children may be in danger in their dynamics with police, when in fact police are there to protect them....We have to retrain police forces in how to work with communities differently, we have to work on things like body cameras that will provide a different level of transparency and accountability.... This is something systemic and we bluntly have to talk about the historical racial dynamics underlying [it]."
Moreover, de Blasio told ABC that he feared for the safety of his own teenage son, Dante, who is black, if the latter were to have an encounter with police. "What parents have done for decades with children of color, especially young men of color, is train them to be very careful, when they have a connection with a police officer, when they have an encounter with a police officer," said the mayor. "It's different for a white child, it's just a reality in this country. And with Dante, very early on, my son, we used to say, look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don't move suddenly, don't reach for your cellphone, because we knew, sadly, there is a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color. There's that fear that there could be that moment of misunderstanding with a young man of color, and that young man may never come back."
At a press conference, de Blasio said, in a similar vein, that he and his wife had to “literally train [Dante], as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.... There are so many families in this city who feel that each and every night. Is my child safe? And not just from ... crime and violence ... but are they safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors?”
In response to de Blasio's comments, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association (PBA) instructed both the mayor and and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (who likewise had been critical of police) not to attend the funerals of any officers killed in the line of duty. A letter posted on the PBA websites stated that de Blasio and Mark-Viverito's "consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve" would make their attendance an "insult."
The mayor and the speaker, in turn, released a joint statement saying: "This is deeply disappointing. Incendiary rhetoric like this serves only to divide the city, and New Yorkers reject these tactics."
Two NYPD Officers Are Assassinated; Police Shun De Blasio
On December 20, 2014, a black gunman/Islamic jihadist named Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed two uniformed NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, execution-style as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner. Brinsley's motive was to avenge the recent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown -- the latter of whom was a black teenager who had been shot and killed by a white police officer four months earlier when Brown assaulted the officer and tried to steal his gun. Just three hours prior to carrying out his double murder in Brooklyn, Brinsley posted the following message on Facebook: “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs.” He used the hashtag #ShootThePolice, along with two other hashtags that referenced Garner and Brown.
When de Blasio entered Brooklyn's Woodhull Hospital to pay respects to the two slain officers, police who filled the hallway silently turned their backs to the mayor as he walked by. Later that night, Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said in a statement to his union members: “Mayor de Blasio, the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands. It is your failed policies and actions that enabled this tragedy to occur.... Ever since this mayor took office there has been a sense of lawlessness that is rampant in every borough.” Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, concurred: “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor. When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable.”
“We’re all in this together,” de Blasio at one point told the grieving officers, prompting one of them to reply: “No we’re not.”
Some 23,000 police officers from all over the United States attended Rafael Romos's funeral on December 27, 2014. So large was the crowd, that many of the officers had to observe the proceedings via a large video screen that was set up outside the church. When de Blasio eulogized Officer Ramos, hundreds of those officers (outside the church) turned their backs to the screen in a sign of disrespect for the mayor.
A week later, on January 4, 2015, approximately 28,000 police officers attended the funeral of Wenjian Liu. Once again, many thousands of the officers outside the church turned their backs to the video screen while de Blasio spoke. As one uniformed officer later explained: “I turned my back last week on [de Blasio], and I will continue to turn my back whenever I hear him speak because he disrespected me, Officer Ramos and Officer Liu when he said he warned his son, Dante, to be wary of cops.” Another officer said, “I can’t stand even looking at him [de Blasio]. He has no friends here.” Added another: “He’s a joke. Everything he says today, he’s doing it to cover his ass.”
Police Vow to Make Arrests Only if "Absolutely Necessary"
Also in response to the assassination of the two NYPD officers, an email was widely circulated among the city's police which said: “At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be. IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest. The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.” (All emphases in original.)
The officers followed through on their warning. For the week beginning December 22, overall arrests in New York City were down 66% compared with the same period in 2013. Citations for traffic violations fell by 94% (from 10,069 to 587); summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination also declined 94% (from 4,831 to 300); parking violations dropped by 92% (from 14,699 to 1,241); and drug arrests by the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau fell by 84% (from 382 to 63).
De Blasio Reappoints Judge Who Had Freed Two Men Who Threatened Police
On December 31, 2014, Mayor de Blasio reappointed Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Laura Johnson, whose two-year term was slated to expire later that night. Johnson had recently freed, without bail, two men who had threatened New York police just hours after Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assassinated on December 20 (see above). One of the men, 18-year-old gang member Devon Coley, had just been busted for posting a photo on Facebook that showed a gunman shooting into an NYPD cruiser, with the caption “73Nextt” -- a reference to the 73rd Precinct that covered Coley's Brownsville neighborhood. Coley had a criminal history that included theft, knife possession, gun possession, and felony assault for his role in an armed robbery. But Judge Johnson ignored a prosecution request to set a $250,000 bail for Coley.
Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins said, “The mayor’s actions of reappointing this judge are completely hypocritical to his argument that he’s pro-police and counterproductive to what he claims to be an effort to open dialogue going forward. He had the opportunity to demonstrate good will and support for the police, and he once again has demonstrated the opposite.” The head of the state court officers union, Dennis Quirk, characterized de Blasio’s decision as “a disgrace” that “sends a strong message to every police officer and everyone in the law enforcement community that it’s OK to threaten the lives of cops.”
Praising NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Who Was Arrested for Accepting Bribes
On January 22, 2015, Sheldon Silver -- the powerful, longtime Speaker of the New York State Assembly -- was arrested and charged in federal court with having taken several million dollars in bribes and kickbacks disguised as legal fees. Reacting to Silver's arrest, de Blasio said: “Although the charges announced today are certainly very serious, I want to note that I’ve always known Shelly Silver to be a man of integrity, and he certainly has due process rights. And I think it’s important that we let the judicial process play out here.... I think, in my experience with Shelly Silver, I’ve seen integrity and public service.”
New Policy on Student Discipline
On February 13, 2015, the de Blasio administration announced that beginning in the spring, changes would be instituted to the disciplinary code governing New York City’s public schools. The move was made to comply with the wishes of student advocacy groups claiming that too many children — disproportionately blacks and Hispanics — were being unnecessarily suspended for long periods after committing relatively minor offenses. The new de Blasio regulations required school principals to get approval from the Education Department's central office before any student could be suspended. The new rules also required the NYPD to track and report any instances in which a student was placed in handcuffs, a practice that many allies of the mayor had long condemned.
De Blasio Panel on Climate Change Releases Ominous Report
On February 17, 2015, Mayor de Blasio's office released the New York City Panel on Climate Change's 2015 report, which predicted that by the 2050s, annual temperatures would rise by 4.1 to 5.7 degrees, the sea level would rise by 11 to 21 inches, and annual precipitation would increase by up to 11 percent. To address these threats, the mayor pledged to cut the city's greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent.
De Blasio Doubles Down on Anti-Police Smears
During a March 1, 2015 television appearance, de Blasio defended his controversial comments (from December 2014) about how he had “trained” his biracial son, Dante, to deal with police officers. Said the mayor: “A young man of color today needs to have that conversation in his family.... It’s something that everyone knows. And it’s not a comment that’s disrespectful to the police. We deeply respect our police, we need our police to protect us. But it’s a comment that refers to our history and some things we still haven’t worked out. That’s the reality.”
De Blasio Announces That NYC Schools Will Close for 2 Muslim Holidays
On March 4, 2015, de Blasio announced that New York City's public schools would add two Muslim holidays to their vacation calendars, thereby fulfilling a promise he had made during his election campaign. "Hundreds of thousands of Muslim families will no longer have to choose between honoring the most sacred days on their calendar or attending school," said the mayor.
DE BLASIO'S VIEWS ON KEY ISSUES
For an overview of de Blasio's views on a variety of key political and social issues, click here.