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De Blasio Calls NYC City Hall Protests ‘Vile’ But Won’t Break Up ‘Autonomous Zone’
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 1: Protestors and police officers clash for the second morning in a row on July 1, 2020 in New York City. The growing group of protesters clashed with police in the early morning hours as tensions increase. Similar to the Occupy Wall Street movement that took over Zuccotti Park for months, the group is now making food, medical and information stations available to assist those protesters that want to stay. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had uncharacteristically strong words for protesters “occupying” City Hall, vandalizing city buildings and public statues, and taunting NYPD officers, but the mayor refused to say whether he would double down on efforts to remove the “autonomous zone” growing around the city’s government buildings.

After a video of protesters taunting police officers went viral Wednesday, de Blasio assailed the demonstrators for “vile, nasty” comments and accused the protesters of “degrading their own movement,” according to the New York Post.

“A protester who says vile, nasty things to a police officer is degrading their own movement,” de Blasio said.

“A protester who writes nasty, violent phrases on a public building is degrading their own movement — especially a public building named after our first African American mayor,” he continued, referring to graffiti scrawled across a building named after David Dinkins. “I mean, get it together, people. If you want to protest for change, do it in a peaceful, respectful manner.”

The Post reports that protesters have been scrawling graffiti across a series of “autonomous zones” that have cropped up around city buildings as part of a larger movement to “occupy” NYC until the mayor agrees to defund the New York Police Department.

“Vandals have scrawled anti-cop graffiti on several city buildings — including 31 Chambers St., which houses Manhattan Surrogate’s Court and other city agencies, and 1 Centre St., a massive, 40-foot structure also known as the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building,” the Post reported. “Anti-cop vitriol, including ‘f*** 12’ and ‘ACAB,’ short for ‘All cops are bastards,’ was spray-painted in black at 1 Centre around a plaque bearing Dinkins’ name.”

On Wednesday, police in riot gear tried to break up the protest surrounding City Hall, according to the New York Daily News, but after tearing down homemade barricades, which demonstrators had sourced from nearby construction sites, and arrested three people, the cops backed down. NYPD officials later said they were not instructed to dismantle the protest entirely, but rather to prevent it from expanding beyond its current borders and retrieve construction items stolen from city projects.

“Protesters were also fortifying their position by putting rebar into the barricades the cops had put in place, making them harder to move, had painted over surveillance cameras that were installed in the area years ago and had begun tacking signs onto trees within the park,” the official told the NYDN.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to order the NYPD to take any further action, chastizing the protesters but not breaking up the protest — a strategy employed by Seattle’s Mayor Jenny Durkan, who called that city’s “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” or CHOP, a “block party” and a “summer of love,” before being forced to dismantle the tent city after two black teenagers were killed inside the “autonomous zone.”

In Seattle, the city government did refuse to make major cuts to the city’s police department, at least, in part, giving a reason to the ongoing demonstration. In New York City, however, mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged — and will pursue — a billion-dollar cut to the NYPD budget.

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