De Blasio Addresses Video Of NYPD SUV Driving Into Protesters

WCBS 880 Newsroom
May 31, 2020 - 10:51 am
Bill de Blasio

NYC Mayor's Office

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UPDATED June 1, 2020 at 12:38PM

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to videos posted to social media showing an NYPD SUV driving into a crowd of demonstrators in Brooklyn during Saturday's chaotic protests over the police custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Videos from the incident in Flatbush show a group of protesters standing behind a barricade throwing items at an NYPD vehicle before it lurches forward, knocking several people to the ground. It was unclear whether anyone was hurt.

The videos show a second NYPD SUV being surrounded by protesters who started banging on the driver's side window as the vehicle tried to make its way around the crowd.

Mayor de Blasio addressed the incident during a late night news conference and said the protesters who converged on the police vehicle did the wrong thing and created an untenable situation.

"I'm not going to blame officers who are trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation," the mayor said. "I wish the officers had found a different approach, but let's begin at the beginning. The protesters in that video did the wrong thing to surround that police car, period."

De Blasio said it's inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten officers.

"That's wrong on its face, and that hasn't happened in the history of protest in this city. I've been watching protests for decades, people don't do that, and so it's clear that a different element has come into play here who are trying to hurt police officers and trying to damage their vehicles, and if a police officer is in that situation, they have to get out of that situation," de Blasio said. "The video was upsetting, and I wish the officers hadn't done that, but I also understood that they didn't start the situation, the situation was started by a group of protesters converging on a police vehicle, attacking that vehicle. It's unacceptable. So the officers have to get out of that situation."

De Blasio said Saturday's protests were peaceful for the most part, with the exception of a few "who chose to commit acts of violence who are here only, unfortunately, to agitate and attack those who protect us — our police officers." 

"Those people do not represent the values of New York City," the mayor said. "What I want to see is that we get these violent protesters off the streets because every day people are not doing this, they just don't do this to police officers, they don't do it to police vehicles. That's just the fact, we've seen it time and time again what real protest looks like in New York City, it does not look like this."

The mayor said the NYPD had a difficult day and some officers had been put in dangerous situations. 

"That's not the protest reality and history that we believe in in this city," de Blasio said. "We believe in peaceful protest, we believe in civil disobedience, we believe in people exercising their democratic rights, but not attacking police officers, not attacking communities."

De Blasio on Monday clarified his comments saying, “I don’t think I expressed it as well as I should have... there is no situation where a police vehicle should drive into a crowd... It is dangerous, it is unacceptable.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo also weighed in Monday saying, “If I was just Andrew Cuomo from Queens, it would be simple. That officer who drove a car into the crowd? He should be fired."

The protests took place across all five boroughs, but Manhattan and Brooklyn appeared to have the largest demonstrations.

The day of protests began with mostly peaceful marches through Harlem, Union Square and neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens before descending into chaos as night fell Saturday.

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