NEW YORK - Don’t believe your lying eyes -- that seemed to be the message Mayor Bill de Blasio was sending New Yorkers on Friday morning, days after violent looting and unrest was met with an aggressive but seemingly effective response and curfew.
But despite a major reduction in looting and vandalism, as peaceful protests continue, the NYPD has deployed questionable amounts of force, often captured on video, sometimes directed towards protesters who say they were acting peacefully. De Blasio, on Friday, spent another day on defense.
“I watched with my own eyes for days now, no use of force around a peaceful protest that I was seeing in front of my very eyes,” de Blasio said Friday during his daily briefing at City Hall.
Some protests have in fact remained peaceful.
But consistently now, when the clock strikes 8 p.m. and the city’s curfew goes into effect, a game of chicken between protesters and the police ensues, with tense moments and flashes of violence captured on tape.
In a video posted to Twitter, you can see Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Councilman Brad Lander negotiate with NYPD brass to allow a peaceful protest to continue in Brooklyn.
“The go home issue is the problem, they want to protest nonviolently," Williams can be heard saying.
The curfew is set to last at least through this weekend. But some lawmakers are calling for it to be lifted now. De Blasio says he has no plans to lift the curfew before Sunday.
“I understand anyone who may say, well, is it more harm than good? And I would say, no, based on what we're seeing, we've had three very good nights, after two really bad nights," de Blasio said.
Pressed with questions about NYPD discipline and accountability, de Blasio acknowledged things are not moving fast enough.
"I, of course, I have eyes to see. If people see in other jurisdictions, immediate action, they don't see it here. It's going to be frustrating," he said.
Still, no plan. And now, raw emotions are being directed towards a mayor who has found himself the focus of a frustrated public.
“You’re not even trying,” Williams said Friday during a press conference in response to how the NYPD has handled the protests. “This is me talking, like you can no longer hide behind your black wife and children, you are exposed now. We are in a time when we need your leadership and its’ not there."
A spokesperson for the mayor, declined to comment but shorty after making that comment the Public Advocate walked it back, saying “this time we're in is not about the mayor's family or any one family, but the thousands of families and people across the city who are looking for leadership and action but aren't receiving it."