A pack of politicians gathered this morning outside of a Midtown Manhattan SUNY building to protest the closing of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn—and two got arrested. Mayoral candidate and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was handcuffed, as was City Councilman Steven Levin. The police also arrested others for obstructing traffic and said they would be charged with disorderly conduct.
SUNY trustees had voted on the hospital's closure earlier this year, and while a judge blocked it for a while, services have dwindled as doctors have resigned. According to the Wall Street Journal, de Blasio and other protesters "blocked the hospital’s entrance for about 20 minutes. He delivered a speech saying he wouldn’t move until he received answers about plans for the Cobble Hill hospital. 'We want to know what’s going on,' Mr. de Blasio said in the speech. 'We’re going to block this entrance until we do.'" And here's footage:
Residents in Cobble Hill, as well as professionals, like nurses and EMTs, have been worried about the hospital's closing. Other mayoral candidates, like City Comptroller John Liu and former Congressman Anthony Weiner, were also at the protest (hospital closings are a big deal to potential voters), though they weren't handcuffed with plastic ties.
de Blasio was released from the Midtown South Precinct around 1:20 p.m. and charged with disorderly conduct. His office had released a statement on his behalf at about the same time, "We're going to lose Long Island College in a matter of weeks if we don't act now; we're going to lose Interfaith Hospital. We have to stop hospital closures in this city. People are going to be much sicker in this city if we keep losing hospitals; people are going to lose their jobs. We have to fight it."
de Blasio has been arrested at protests before (once with Steve Buscemi while protesting the closing of Engine Company 204 in Brooklyn) but it's impossible to forget that there is an election around the corner:
With Weiner and Spitzer on the scene, seems the other candidates literally have to get arrested to get some press
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 10, 2013
State lawmakers are hoping to create health resources for residents if LICH is sold.