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New Yorkers Confront de Blasio Over Defense of NYPD Violence as Calls Mount for Mayor's Resignation

"The police could beat up de Blasio and he would say it didn't happen."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio gives a media briefing ahead of a scheduled protest against the killing of George Floyd. (Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio faced angry New Yorkers who called in to WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show" on Friday, demanding answers about the mayor's response to racial justice protests in the city over the past two weeks and his persistent defense of violence from the NYPD. 

Callers to the "Ask the Mayor" segment referred to police officers as "werewolves" who immediately wage physical attacks on any New Yorker they see in the streets after 8:00 p.m., when the city's current nightly curfew begins and demanded to know why officers patrolling the demonstrations have not been wearing face masks despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

De Blasio's insistence in the segment that police have simply been responding to "evidence of violence about to happen" and his claim that Lehrer's reporting about the NYPD's violent response and its "kettling" mass-arrest tactic was not "objective," led to renewed anger directed at the mayor on social media and calls for his resignation.

DeBlasio's call-in segment followed his appearance Thursday at a memorial for George Floyd, who was killed May 25 by Minneapolis police officers and whose death drove millions of Americans to protest racial injustice, where the mayor was unable to speak due to a crowd of thousands of mourners booing him and calling for his resignation.

Viral videos in recent days have shown NYPD officers driving an SUV into a crowd of protesters, beating demonstrators with batons, and beating workers on their way home after the nightly curfew.

The Daily Beast reported this week that Rayne Valentine, an essential medical worker at a hospital in Brooklyn, was beaten and kicked by NYPD officers after leaving his job at night.

The members of the New York Times editorial board added their voices to the calls for de Blasio to end his insistence that the city and its police force are "doing everything from a perspective of restraint," adding that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo must "open his eyes."

Cuomo on Thursday called a reporter's question about police attacking peaceful protesters "a hyperpartisan attack" and insisted, "They don't do that. Both the governor and the mayor claimed they had not seen videos of the violence. 

"The failure of Messrs. de Blasio and Cuomo to protect their constituents from police violence is a particularly painful betrayal," the Times wrote.  

The editorial board suggested de Blasio may not be fit for his role as leader of the nation's largest city, writing, "The immediate imperative is to keep a firm hand on police behavior in this dangerous moment. The police commissioner serves at the pleasure of Mr. de Blasio. If he cannot maintain control of his officers, Mr. de Blasio must find someone who can."

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