Over 400 current and former employees in the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio have signed an open letter denouncing the mayor’s treatment of peaceful protesters and his refusal to reign in the NYPD.
The letter includes a scathing evaluation of de Blasio’s performance on criminal justice reform, despite it being one of the main commitments that drew many of these staffers to work for the administration, particularly after he made ending the misuse of stop and frisk a central theme in his 2013 mayoral campaign.
“Our time in the Mayor’s Office showed us that the change we had hoped for, and fought for, might never come,” the letter states.
The current and former staffers list a set of demands they say must be met, because de Blasio "is on the brink of losing all legitimacy in the eyes of New Yorkers."
The staffers want the city to slash $1 billion in Fiscal Year 2021 from the NYPD’s nearly $6 billion operating budget, fire of all NYPD officers found to have used excessive force during protests—or to have covered their badges, and release their disciplinary records.
“We have joined together in writing this letter because we could not remain silent while the Administration we served allows the NYPD to turn our City into an occupied territory,” the letter states. “Our former boss might not hear the cries for justice from Black and brown New Yorkers, but we do.”
You can read the full text of the letter here.
While several individuals signed with their full name and office, in other instances, people only signed with their first name and the first initial of their last name. Organizers said a small group worked to verify that all the signers worked, or used to work, for the administration. They could not provide a breakdown of current or former staffers.
“We understand that lending your name to the letter as a current, and even former [staffer] comes at a cost,” said Christopher Collins-McNeil, who listed his former position with the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. “We are very appreciative of those who have signed their names and respect and honor their decision on how they chose to be identified,” he added.
Another staffer in the Mayor's Office told Gothamist that they knew of at least a dozen others who supported the letter, but did not sign for fear of retaliation. Of particular concern to staffers, the source said, is that de Blasio appears to be getting all of his information about the protests from Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.
"I'm really scared of seeing the police commissioner and the mayor hand-in-hand all the time. Where are the other voices?" the source wondered. "It's really disturbing."
In response to the letter, mayoral press secretary Freddi Goldstein pointed to the de Blasio era reforms that have been enacted. “The mayor ended stop-and-frisk and low-level marijuana arrests, outfitted every patrol officer with a body camera, reduced the jail population to its lowest since the 1940s, committed to closing Rikers Island and is training every officer to recognize implicit bias—just to name a few.”
She added, “He has worked hand-in-hand with reformers to fundamentally change policing in this city and end the era of mass incarceration. And we’re not done.”