NYC mayor's staffers are fleeing as he gets slammed for 'letting the cops run over him and the entire city'
When Democrat Bill de Blasio was elected mayor of New York City in 2013, criminal justice reform had been a prominent theme of his campaign. But in recent weeks, the NYC mayor has received criticism from some liberals and progressives for his handling of the George Floyd protests in NYC. And Gothamist reporter Jake Offenhartz reports that “at least six high-ranking staffers” have announced their departures from his administration this month.
A former staffer, quoted anonymously in Gothamist, complained that de Blasio “is now completely letting the cops run over him and the entire city, and that is not what I signed up for.”
Recent departures from de Blasio’s administration, Offenhartz notes, include Communications Director Wiley Norvell, spokesperson Freddi Goldstein, Deputy Communications Director Deidrea Miller, speechwriter Jeff Sutton and deputy press secretaries Olivia Lapeyrolerie and Jane Meyer. And those departures followed the departure of Senior Advisor Alison Hirsh in June.
Bill Neidhardt, who now works in de Blasio’s press office, downplayed the importance of the June and July departures —telling Gothamist, “It’s a natural time for transition, especially for staff who helped New York make it through a time of historic crisis.”
Neidhardt, of course, was referring to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed thousands of New York City residents. NYC was the coronavirus epicenter of the U.S. back in the spring.
But the pandemic isn’t the only challenge that NYC has faced this year. The city has also been rocked by huge protests in response to Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on May 25. And according to Offenhartz, “Multiple City Hall staffers said that the mayor’s handling of the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death factored into the decision to step down.”
“Current staffers,” Offenhartz reports, “described feeling demoralized by de Blasio’s unwavering support of the NYPD and Commissioner (Dermot) Shea. After plain-clothes officers were seen on video this week throwing a teenage activist into an unmarked minivan, one current aide wondered why the mayor hadn’t pushed the NYPD to disavow the arrest. That aide told Gothamist, ‘Why wasn’t the van going after murder and shooting suspects instead of a person accused of criminal mischief? It’s beyond reason.’”
In June, Offenhartz notes, over 400 current and former members of de Blasio’s administration signed a letter “denouncing the mayor’s treatment of peaceful protesters, and accusing him of betraying his campaign promises to stand up to the police department.”
Rebecca Katz, a former de Blasio adviser, was highly critical of the New York Police Department, telling Gothamist, “There’s a disturbing disconnect between the police reforms de Blasio ran on as a candidate versus the police conduct de Blasio presides over as Mayor. What progressive can defend that?”
In 2013, de Blasio became the first person to win a mayoral race in NYC as a Democrat since David Dinkins in 1989. A former member of the New York City Council, de Blasio enjoyed a decisive victory when he ran for mayor in 2013 — and he was reelected by a landslide in 2017, defeating Republican challenger Nicole Malliotakis by 38%.