The extent to which high elected officials in New York City are willing to excuse the mobs burning and looting the city, and attacking its police officers, is shocking. Even Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is taking enormous heat from the Left for his supposed hard line on policing the “protesters,” makes a point every time he opens his mouth of embracing their demands for “change” and acknowledging their “deep pain.”
Enough already. Peaceful protesters have had several days in which to make themselves and their concerns heard about the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. The Antifa hooligans firebombing police vehicles, and the looters gleefully grabbing sneakers, are not only not in mourning, they are having a party. This is a perverse holiday for them, one to which the liberal leaders of our city pay obsequious deference.
Mark Levine, city councilman for Morningside Heights and chairman of the council’s Health Committee, was one of the most prominent voices urging New Yorkers to go to Chinatown, early and often, to stick it to President Trump, shortly before the pandemic struck the city. On February 9, he tweeted, “In powerful show of defiance of #coronavirus scare, huge crowds gathering in NYC’s Chinatown for ceremony ahead of annual #LunarNewYear parade. Chants of ‘be strong Wuhan!’ If you are staying away, you are missing out!”
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, Levine became one of the most fervid supporters of locking down the city in order to “flatten the curve.” On May 22, he bemoaned a court decision permitting gatherings of up to 10 people, advising, “This was not a decision made by health professionals. It was forced by a lawsuit. **No one should interpret this as advice to change their behavior.**”
Once the protests broke out, Levine’s concern for intensive social-distancing measures conveniently waned, and he has praised vigils in parks with more than 1,000 participants. He’s not alone. De Blasio explained yesterday, “it’s very hard to say to people, you know, when there’s such pain, there’s such anger . . . ‘don’t come out because of the pandemic.’” That same day, following two nights of widespread arson, looting, and organized political violence by seditious radicals, Levine sternly addressed the police on Twitter, warning them:
“NYPD, your use of tear gas is increasing Covid-19 risk, because it:
1. Makes the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection
2. Exacerbates existing inflammation
3. Makes people cough
The hypocrisy is dizzying. On the one hand, a strict lockdown of all socioeconomic activity to protect against Covid-19 is suddenly waived because of the more pressing need to crowd streets with protesters; on the other, the danger of Covid-19 remains so acute that the NYPD must be lectured not to use tear gas to disperse violent mobs because it “makes people cough.”
The special pleading, and the fake concern that tear gas—not mass un-distanced public assembly—will make Covid worse, is made more obscene by the reality that the NYPD has not been using tear gas. Other cities have used it, and the NYPD probably should, but up to now it has not done so. Levine is either trolling or he just couldn’t resist scoring Twitter points with something he must know isn’t true.
More influential politicians have tripped over themselves to defend even more directly the looters and rioters. After a weekend in which anarchists attempted to firebomb occupied police vans in his borough, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez tweeted on Monday night, “If you have photos or videos of alleged police brutality and other unlawful activity during the protests, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.” New York State Attorney General Letitia James has similarly begged the public—in English and Spanish—to alert her office of any hint of police misconduct. A woman posted a blurry image of a cop gesturing and insisted that he was making a “white power sign”; James’s office immediately responded to the tweet and said she was on the case.
When it emerged that Mayor de Blasio’s daughter Chiara had been arrested for taking part in a screaming crowd in lower Manhattan, people wondered what the mayor’s reaction would be. Would he be stern? Would he express disappointment? Of course not. “I love my daughter deeply. I honor her. She is such a good human being,” the mayor said. “She only wants to do good in the world. She wants to see a better and more peaceful world. She believes a lot of change is needed. I’m proud of her that she cares so much and she was willing to go out there and do something about it.”
De Blasio loves his daughter and feels the pain of the “protesters” who looted Macy’s last night, and who ransacked the same area around Union Square where his daughter was arrested. Is there any reason why the nation’s largest and best police force couldn’t stop a few hundred thugs and thieves from despoiling the neighborhood where everyone knew they were concentrating? New York City’s political class is up in arms today—but not because criminals and arsonists are holding the city hostage. Instead, they’re alarmed because President Trump has pledged to restore order. Any New Yorker who wants safety and order must see de Blasio and the rest of the city’s leadership as abject failures during this crisis. Those who believe, on the other hand, in the transformative potential of chaos should be grateful for his leadership.
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images