NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Public advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio was arrested Wednesday on disorderly conduct charges during a rally to keep Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn from closing.
De Blasio was released with a summons after being arrested with City Councilman Steve Levin and about a dozen other protesters outside the State University of New York’s office in Midtown.
“When things are unacceptable, people turn to civil disobedience when all other systems are failing,” de Blasio told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
De Blasio’s campaign tweeted a picture of his arrest.
Video from the scene shows him being put into plastic handcuffs and then led to a nearby police van.
“We have to stop hospital closures in this city,” he told reporters as he was being escorted away by police. “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.”
As the stone-faced city public advocate was led away by police, the crowd chanted “no hospitals, no peace.”
“This is not a time for business as usual,” de Blasio told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman following his release. “It certainly brought attention and we need it. We need the focus because we have to force the mayor, the governor and the federal government to act.”
Several nurses were also arrested and released a few hours later.
“We are literally weeks away from losing Long Island College Hospital,” said de Blasio. “There’s going to be a moment where people in the city wake up and realize that they’re just having things taken away from them year after year.”
SUNY is considering selling Long Island College Hospital and has claimed that the institution loses about $1 million a week.
The protest was organized in part by a health care workers union that has endorsed de Blasio for mayor, but he denied that his arrest Wednesday was part of a campaign publicity stunt, despite the fact that his campaign tried to maximize the arrest exposure, alerting the media he would be handcuffed and tweeting out pictures as de Blasio headed off to the precinct stationhouse, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
“If I hadn’t been involved for years in the fight to save Long Island College Hospital, people could say what they want,” he said. “If I hadn’t been arrested before for what I believe in, people could say what they wanted.”
However, one political pundit told Aiello what de Blasio did wasn’t a huge surprise, considering how far he’s behind in the polls.
“It sucks all the air out of the room. The other candidates are left struggling to try and get some attention, and since people are focused on their antics, what do they have to do, get arrested?” Gerry O’Brien said. “It says that he cares, and that above all else is what candidates for public office want voters to know.”
Two other candidates for mayor, John Liu and Anthony Weiner, were also at the protest but were not taken into custody, Jones reported.
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