Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Minority leaders blast de Blasio over NYPD upheaval
Mayor Bill de Blasio faced a bigger crisis Monday than just the abrupt resignation of the city’s highest-ranking black cop — as minority leaders blasted his handling of the NYPD and warned of political consequences.
Nearly a dozen key members of the mayor’s core base raged at de Blasio over the departure of Chief of Department Philip Banks III, who quit Friday rather than accept a promotion to a position that he felt had little power.
“The mayor leads the city, not the commissioner,” Assemblyman Walter Mosley (D-Brooklyn) said during a City Hall news conference.
“So we’re going to ask the mayor, along with the commissioner, to be held accountable, because ultimately, we know that those decisions they make here at City Hall and at 1 Police Plaza have a disparate impact on my community and those communities we represent throughout the five boroughs.”
Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) said de Blasio hadn’t delivered on his promises to crack down on alleged abuses by cops and improve police relations with the city’s minorities.
“In month Number 11, we have not seen the changes that we believe should be happening in this time,” she said.
Gibson also highlighted in stark terms the potential peril facing de Blasio.
“Our constituents are asking us: What are we doing in this city? … What is going on in the police department? It’s hard for us to answer these questions,” she said.
Speakers also derided de Blasio’s public lovefest with Commissioner Bill Bratton during a hastily called joint appearance Sunday at Gracie Mansion.
“He was trying to save face and save embarrassment over the quote that went out from his wife,” said Charles Billups, chairman of the Grand Council of Guardians, a coalition of black law enforcement groups.
Billups was referring to a front-page Post exclusive that revealed how First Lady Chirlane McCray railed at her hubby about Bratton: “I told you we can’t trust him!”
“I fully believe the quote his wife said. He can’t be trusted because it’s a fact,” Billups added.
De Blasio and McCray have both denied the outburst, while refusing to detail their conversation.
Assemblyman Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn) said he was “not satisfied” and “extremely disappointed in [de Blasio’s] response.”
Several speakers faulted de Blasio for letting Bratton force out both Banks and former First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, who resigned under fire from Bratton in September.
“When the top black and brown people resign from the NYPD, we’re worried that the atmosphere there is not yet right for the change we were hoping to see,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn).
Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens) said, “We want the power. I think that’s the message we’re trying to send here.”
Anthony Miranda, chairman of the National Latino Officers Association, said everything he’d heard from de Blasio so far was “all crap.”
“If he’s accountable, then the mayor has to say he said it was OK to dismiss both of these individuals,” Miranda said. “You can’t have it both ways, mayor — either you did have knowledge of it or you didn’t.”
Although Banks gave 30 days’ notice when he quit, sources said he’s using vacation time until his resignation takes effect, and cops were seen boxing up belongings in his office on Monday.
Neither de Blasio nor Bratton would comment on the remarks made during Monday’s news conference.
But at the NYPD promotion ceremony where Banks was to have been elevated to first deputy commissioner, Bratton said of Banks’ departure: “It is what it was. We’re moving on now.”
Bratton said he would announce Banks’ replacement Wednesday after “talking to several people in terms of ensuring that my instincts are correct.”
Additional reporting by Shawn Cohen and Kirstan Conley