A prominent Harlem minister is ratcheting up his criticism of Mayor Bill de Blasio. NY1’s Bobby Cuza filed this report.
Calvin Butts is turning up the heat on Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We’re saying to the mayor, If you won’t take action, then you’re not our guy,” he said Tuesday.
The longtime pastor of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church and president of SUNY College at Old Westbury has been leading a coalition of clergy and civil rights and community leaders pushing the mayor to take stronger action on police reform, among other things, calling for the immediate firing of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, despite the fact he was never charged in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.
“They feel around the Eric Garner killing, that more should be done. But they also feel that there’s not enough respect given to our communities,” Butts said.
On Tuesday’s Inside City Hall, Butts accused de Blasio of breaking promises made during his campaign. De Blasio swept into office with overwhelming support from black communities, but Butts says the administration has ignored him, even when he’s sought meetings to partner on other issues like education and affordable housing.
“We can’t even work with him. So black lives matter when it’s time to vote. But when it’s time to do other things, they don’t seem to matter,” Butts said.
As a result, Butts says he’s been recruiting potential challengers to de Blasio, presumably in a Democratic primary two years from now—but for now, he won’t name names.
“I won’t do that to those persons who may be serving in office now, who may have plans to develop their own campaign. But I will say that there are two or three,” he said.
Butts, who didn’t support de Blasio in the 2013 primary, backing Bill Thompson instead, also added his voice to criticism of the mayor’s recent travel schedule, which has taken him to Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and California.
“It doesn’t look good for him to be traveling all over, fostering a progressive agenda. And we’re at home, saying, ‘huh?’” Butts said.