Mayor de Blasio Does Not Think the NYPD’s Protest Response Was Overly Aggressive

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference after witnessing police being retrained with new guidelines at the Police Academy  on December 4, 2014 in the College Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of in New York City.
Bill de Blasio.Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

On Wednesday night 143 people were arrested during New York’s march in solidarity with Baltimore, but those looking for some sympathy from frequent protester Bill de Blasio were disappointed. At a press conference on Thursday, the mayor told reporters they shouldn’t “exaggerate what happened” and denied that his administration is taking a more aggressive stance, saying, “We’ll make tactical adjustments, but the strategy remains the same.” He added that he believes “deeply” in the power of nonviolent protest, but “[when] the police give you instruction, you follow the instruction. It’s not debatable.”

Reporters noted that de Blasio was arrrested in 2013 during a protest to save Long Island College Hospital, but he said he was “astounded” that they would make that comparison. The mayor said the incidents were nothing alike because Freddie Gray protesters were disobeying police, and his own arrest was the “most choreographed thing on earth.”

While NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton said at his own press conference that he doesn’t think the department’s tactics have changed, he acknowledged, “We are going to be much more assertive in dealing with efforts to close down tunnels, close down bridges, and we’ll be much faster to make arrests.” Bratton also released a report defending “broken windows” policing on Thursday. Many found the timing awkward, but Bratton said we need such policing “now more than ever.”