New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio blasted Mayor Michael Bloomberg today for his decision to raid the Occupy Wall Street encampment in the wee hours of this morning.
“Protecting public safety and quality of life for downtown residents, and guaranteeing free expression are not exclusive of one another,” de Blasio, who’s a likely 2013 mayoral candidate, said. “Mayor Bloomberg made a needlessly provocative and legally questionable decision to clear Zuccotti Park in the dead of night. That some media and observers were prevented from monitoring the action is deeply troubling.”
De Blasio has been riding the Occupy bandwagon for some time. After offering guarded approval early on, the public advocate defended protesters against an earlier attempt to evict them, then joined them in protests against Walmart and an 11-mile march from Washington Heights. Two weeks ago, he called the mayor’s handling of the protests “schizophrenic”. Last week, he made a guest appearance at the park on Teamster president Greg Floyd’s radio show.
“I know of no one—protesters included—who desires a permanent occupation of lower Manhattan,” Mr. de Blasio added. “But provocations under cover of darkness only escalate tensions in a situation that calls for mediation and dialogue. I call on the Mayor to find a sustainable resolution—as other cities have done—that allows for the exercise of free speech and assembly, with respect for the rights of all New Yorkers to peaceful enjoyment of our great city.”