Mayor Bill de Blasio says he won't allow President Donald Trump to send federal agents to the city to handle a spike in crime.
The mayor's comments come after Trump on Monday signaled he wanted to expand a strategy that has seen federal law enforcement officers deployed to Portland to deal with ongoing protests.
“Look at what happened in Portland,” he told NY1's Errol Louis in our weekly "Mondays with the Mayor" segment on "Inside City Hall," referring to criticism from elected officials on how agents have treated protesters. “It’s been a fiasco. Sending in federal agents totally backfired. It makes no sense.”
Asked by Louis about Trump’s statement that he’s simply protecting federal buildings from being sprayed with graffiti, de Blasio said while there’s no place for graffiti on public buildings like the Tweed Courthouse and the Surrogate's Courthouse, it’s an excuse that won’t fly.
“It’s the same way he uses ICE as an extension of his reelection campaign,” the mayor said. “We have no illusions here. We do not welcome it. It will not work. Every time we’ve seen Trump do things that are illegal and unconstitutional, we challenge him in court and overwhelmingly beat him and he has to retreat. I think it’s the same scenario here.”
In the wide-ranging interview, the mayor also had a message for people planning to deface the Black Lives Matter mural outside Trump Tower: leave it alone or face prosecution.
“It is an affirmation of people’s value who have for so long been devalued and disrespected,” he said. “If someone wants to deface it, that’s an offense and they will likely be arrested and it will be repainted again. Anytime someone thinks they’re gonna do something it will be addressed and it will be put back good as new and we’ll keep sending that message to the people of this city and the country.”
De Blasio also talked about the importance of stimulus money and public-private partnerships to get the city’s businesses back on their feet, and the need for big business to pitch in.
“We want them investing in working people and hiring back people,” he said, with the focus on the neighborhoods hardest hit by the pandemic. “You’ve seen the city going through a lot of things in the ‘60s and ‘70s, after 9/11 and Sandy. The city literally comes back stronger again and again."
The conversation moved to the crowds that took over the streets in Astoria, Queens, this weekend, causing one bar to be closed down. The mayor said we’ve seen overwhelming compliance with the city’s social distancing orders, but this disregard for those orders is unacceptable.
“I have made it clear to people up until now that I haven’t wanted to close restaurants that are struggling to survive, that are trying to bring people back to work, “he said. “I haven’t wanted to give fines to people who don’t have much money, but if that’s what it’s gonna take, that’s what they’re gonna get.”
The mayor also said he didn’t like seeing video of an NYPD officer punching a homeless man who wouldn’t leave the subway, but also didn’t like to see non-compliance with and lashing out at police officers, and vowed to get information about the internal disciplining of police out to the public much more quickly.