NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — After a bomb exploded on 23rd Street in Chelsea this past weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio went to great lengths to avoid labeling it “terrorism.”
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, many New Yorkers were wondering why.
Kramer followed de Blasio around Chelsea on Tuesday, from a huddle with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, to a meeting with residents in a home for the blind that was damaged in the blast, to a bomb site near the diner.
Kramer repeatedly asked de Blasio on Tuesday why he did not call the bombing “terrorism” from the start. De Blasio declined to comment.
Still, many New Yorkers wondered why “terrorism” was not a word that de Blasio used on Sunday after the explosion the night before.
Other elected officials the blast “terrorism” from the get-go.
“I think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand you were looking to do harm to others for whatever your purpose or, to me, that’s an essence of terrorism,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)
“You can call them whatever you want. They are terrorism, though – there’s no doubt about that,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
“A bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
But Mayor de Blasio said, “This was an intentional act.”
Kramer reported she was told de Blasio did not respond to her question because he was “not taking questions today.”
But some of his constituents were complaining about his choice of words nonetheless.
“He wasn’t being forthright. He wasn’t being honest with the people when it was obvious to most people that it was terrorism,” said Jeremy Frank of the Upper West Side. “Cowardly.”
“How many bombs do you need to call it terrorism? One. One bomb terrorizes a neighborhood,” said Freda Lazar of the Upper West Side. “I think he’s stupid. I think he’s ridiculous. I voted for him and I’m sorry I did.”
“He didn’t immediately connect it to terrorism,” said Ronald Meltzer of the Upper West Side. “I think that was ridiculous. It was obviously terrorism. You should call it what it is so we can defend ourselves against it.”
But some thought the mayor did the right thing.
“I think he did a far better job of being responsible than Donald Trump,” said Jerry Gloster of Harlem.
“I think he described it exactly as he understood the news at the time,” said Michael Grossman of Chelsea. “It wouldn’t be appropriate to say it’s terrorism if he didn’t know the answer.”
Cuomo defended de Blasio on Tuesday, calling it a question of semantics.
He suggested that maybe the mayor held back because he wanted to see if it was “international terrorism” or if there was an international connection. Cuomo said that was not apparent early on.