August 13, 2017
Mayor Bill de Blasio: Good afternoon, everyone. I just have a brief statement on a couple of important topics. First, I want to update you on President Trump's visit to New York City. I want to say at the outset, the White House has changed their plans a couple of times, and it’s still subject to further change. At this moment, the last we’ve heard is he’s coming in tomorrow and staying through Wednesday evening. But again I emphasize subject to change.
Let me state the obvious, the NYPD is prepared. There’s no police force in the world that does a better job of handling presidential visits than the NYPD. We’ve been planning closely with the Secret Service, and we are ready for any eventuality. At this time, our understanding is President Trump will essentially remain at Trump Tower during his stay here. So if it’s 48 hours – if it’s more or it’s less – things will be focused on Trump Tower. Obviously the NYPD has proven clearly in the time up to the inauguration their ability to secure the president, his family, his team while keeping things moving in the surrounding neighborhood.
But I do want to remind all New Yorkers, as long a President Trump is in town at Trump Tower if you have any ability to avoid that part of Midtown, please do. It’s going to by definition going to be slow moving around there, particularly 5th avenue and in the 50s and 60s and 57th street on the East side. Both of those are going to be jammed up a lot of the time and slow. Traffic will be continuing to move on 57th street and 5th avenue but expect delays, expect times when the traffic is stopped for security reasons. So the best thing is if you can avoid that part of town is please stay away from that part of Midtown.
We are very confident we can handle any situation including if the president decides to go out a restaurant or anything like that. NYPD and Secret Service are ready. And we will make sure you will get regular updates as the president’s plans develop.
Now I want to talk about the attack in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday. At first I want to express my condolences to the families of all those who were lost yesterday – the protestor and the two Virginia state troopers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those lost and with so many who were injured yesterday as well. I want to be very clear – and this is not something that should be hard for anyone to say – this was an act of domestic terrorism. Period.
This was an act motivated by a philosophy of hate and white supremacy. It is an unacceptable philosophy that goes against the very values of this nation. The President of the United States needs to do more. President Trump needs to speak out. He needs to say this was an act of domestic terror. He needs to condemn the white supremacist movement clearly. It’s not hard to do. He needs to recognize what a danger this right wing, white supremacist is to our country.
And by the way, those who bear the brunt of this horrible extremist movement are our law enforcement officers. All over the country for years militias and other white supremacist have physically confronted law enforcement, and they have been regarded for a long time as the number one domestic threat. The President of the United States needs to recognize this. He needs to talk about it. His fellow Republicans, many of them in the last 24 hour,s have said that. He can’t continue to pull his punches when it comes to the white supremacist movement.
This is a president who clearly speaks in blunt terms on many, many topics, but unfortunately we’ve seen him hold back when it comes to right wing terror. We saw it at the time he got offered some support from the KKK and other white supremacist groups and had trouble condemning them and refusing to take their support. It’s time for him just to say squarely he will not accept any support, any friendship, any alliance with right wing white supremacist groups who attack innocent civilians and attack law enforcement.
Look, we have to remember why people gathered, and I’m very sorry that some gathered because they want to maintain the evils of our past. The leaders of Charlottesville made a decision, a democratic decision, to remove a confederate statue as so many other had done all over this country and to take down confederate symbols. And by the way it’s been bipartisan. I commend my colleague Mitch Landrieu the Mayor of New Orleans who’s removing confederate statues. I commend then-governor Nikki Hayley of South Carolina who agreed a confederate flag did not belong on the grounds of the state house. This is a national consensus, but what you saw in Charlottesville is a small, dedicated group of extremists who are opposed and want to maintain hateful symbols. They cannot be allowed to prevail.
From the point of view of New Yorkers, we look on with sorrow. We look on with disgust at what happened in Charlottesville, and this kind of hate is not tolerated here. New Yorkers know who we are. We’re very proud of being a city for everyone. We’re very proud, and we’ve been this way for generations. We’re proud to be a city that respects all faiths, respects people of all backgrounds, respects immigrants. Any time you’re in a crowd of New Yorkers you’re with people of every background. You’re with people who their parents, their grandparents, maybe they themselves are immigrants. If New Yorkers understand on thing, it’s that we all have to get along. We all have to make it work. We have to live and let live, and that’s why this place works for everyone. So we are particularly pained when we see an overt display of hatred, and we don’t tolerate it here.
I’ll conclude by saying this. President Trump is coming back to his hometown. I hope while he’s here he thinks about the values of this place. I hope he thinks about New Yorkers and what we believe. I hope he thinks about the people he grew up with who would never tolerate a white supremacist movement, who would never tolerate innocent protestors being mowed down out of hatred. I hope the president reflects on that, and I hope he remembers why New York City is the greatest city in the world – because it is a city for everyone. And we continue to be a beacon for our nation for that reason.
Thank you, everyone.