Fields Under Fire Again, This Time For Insensitive Remark
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Democratic candidate for mayor C. Virginia Fields is apologizing for using the term "paddy wagon" in an interview with NY1 last week.
In Alabama on Friday, the Manhattan borough president talked about being arrested during a civil rights protest in 1963. In her comments, she described police vans as "paddy wagons" — a term that's considered offensive by some Irish-Americans. "Paddy" is a word used in the past as a pejorative to insult Irish people.
"We marched to mid-block at best and the paddy wagon was there and we were told we were marching without a permit and we could either turn around or we would be arrested," said Fields in the interview last Friday. "We fell on our knees and we were put into the paddy wagon."
Fields' campaign spokeswoman released a statement saying, "Obviously she did not mean to offend anyone. If she did, she is very sorry."
Fields' campaign had already been facing controversy over a campaign flier that used a photo of Fields surrounded by multicultural supporters. That photo was later revealed to be a composite of four separate photos. In the wake of that incident, Fields fired her top campaign consultant, Joe Mercurio, on Friday.
Polls show Fields running second in the four-way Democratic primary race.
The Democrats running for mayor are taking aim at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-terror policies, saying he's not doing enough to protect the subways. Tuesday was C. Virginia Fields's turn to take aim at Hizzoner, but as NY1’s Sandra Endo explains in the following report, the questions were about another topic that Fields didn't want to talk about.
“My credibility is not under question,” said C. Virginia Fields.
But under question is the state of her mayoral campaign. On Friday, Fields fired her top campaign advisor, Joe Mercurio. She's still responding to questions about the controversy over a doctored photo used in a campaign flier.
“I have said all I have to say about that situation,” said the Manhattan borough president.
Friday night, Mercurio appeared on NY1’s “The Road To City Hall,” saying Fields and her top staff knew the photo was doctored.
“We have differences on how it transpired and who had responsibility,” said Mercurio.
According to the printing company, the flier was made before the woman who Mercurio blames was even hired.
Now, Fields is trying to stick to the issues. On Tuesday she talked about subway safety.
It was her first appearance in the city since visiting her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, over the weekend. She went down south to hold a much-needed fundraiser and recalled her days fighting for civil rights.
But her choice of words to describe police vans is considered offensive to Irish-Americans.
"We marched to maybe mid-block at best, and the paddy wagon was there and we were told that we were marching without a permit and we could either turn around or we would be arrested," said Fields in the interview last Friday. "We fell on our knees and we were put into the paddy wagon."
Fields' campaign spokeswoman says: “Obviously she did not mean to offend anyone. If she did, she is very sorry.”
Trying to avoid apologies, now the campaign is working to get back on track.
- Sandra Endo
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