Arrest wasn't publicity stunt, he says
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bill de Blasio scoffed at critics who charged that his high-profile arrest July 10 at a mid-town Manhattan rally to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH) was a publicity stunt designed to help his mayoral campaign.
“There are a lot of imbecile editors,” de Blasio said, referring to news media reports that he allegedly got himself arrested to get attention for his campaign for City hall.
“I have been speaking out on LICH for a long time. Remember, this is our second go-around with LICH closing. Also, I have also used civil disobedience before,” de Blasio told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle during an interview at his downtown Brooklyn campaign headquarters on July 12. He said he peacefully protested a plan by the Bloomberg Administration to close a Park Slope firehouse years ago when he was a councilman serving that community.
As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported, de Blasio was arrested, along with City Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) and more than a dozen other protesters, on a charge of disorderly conduct when he refused to leave the lobby of the offices of the State University of New York (SUNY) during a demonstration. SUNY, which runs LICH, made the controversial decision to close the financially strapped hospital in Cobble Hill.
Two other mayoral candidates, Anthony Weiner and John Liu, were also at the protest demonstration, but they were not arrested.
People who doubt his sincerity are wrong, de Blasio said.
He holds no animus toward the police. “The police acted in a thoroughly professional manner,” de Blasio said. His anger is reserved for SUNY officials. “If there’s anyone I’m angry with, it’s SUNY. They have yet to be honest about LICH,” he said. De Blasio charged that the closure of the hospital is “a big real estate deal” for SUNY, which stands to make millions of dollars from the sale of the property.
Levin released a statement on June 10 shortly after his arrest. “Today, nurses, doctors, community members, and elected officials stand together against the blatant attempt by SUNY Downstate to shutdown Long Island College Hospital,” he stated.
“Their actions fly in the face of the law and are literally risking the lives of Brooklyn residents. By getting arrested, we are sending a message that we will not tolerate SUNY’s disturbing disregard of the courts orders. LICH provides vital healthcare to our community and must be kept open for care.,” Levin stated.