New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said reports of police misconduct during the weekend's violent protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a Minneapolis police officer, will be immediately investigated — although he defended a "vast majority" of NYPD officers.
"A vast majority of officers do their job and do their job well. A vast majority of officers are trying to connect to communities and do the right thing," he said. "They're in this job for the right reason. There are some who do not belong on this job. There are some that use violence when they shouldn't."
What started out as peaceful protests erupted into an all-out riot and violence at times from both sides. De Blasio said the city is investigating an incident where two New York Police Department cars were caught on tape driving into a group of protesters in Brooklyn, jolting into the group and pushing them backward. De Blasio was criticized for initially defending the officers, saying that the incident was caused by the group of protesters surrounding the vehicle.
On Monday, de Blasio said he thought there were times when NYPD officers' lives were in danger over the weekend. Even so, he said their actions were unacceptable.
"There is no situation where a police vehicle should drive into a crowd of protesters or New Yorkers of any kind. It is dangerous, it is unacceptable," de Blasio said. "This was an extremely aberrant situation."
The NYPD and an independent review board is investigating the situation, de Blasio said.
He said that several other incidents from the weekend are now under review, including when an NYPD officer pushed a protester to the ground and another where an officer opened a car door and hit a protester.
In another incident, an NYPD officer pulled his gun out while in the middle of a crowd of protesters and was immediately removed from the situation, de Blasio said.
"That officer should have his gun and badge taken away today. There will be an investigation immediately to determine the larger consequences," he said.
De Blasio said his daughter Chiara, 25, who is black, was also arrested while peacefully protesting this weekend.
"She was acting peacefully. She believes everything she did was in the spirit of peaceful, respectful protest," he said about Chiara. "I admire that she was out there trying to change something she thought was unjust and doing it in a peaceful manner."
The city is slowly progressing to begin its phase one reopening, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo said should begin on June 8. De Blasio said that his discussions with some residents indicated that they are still concerned about the coronavirus, which has had a greater toll on minority communities in the city.
"It's very hard to say to people when there's such pain, such anger that if you say, 'Don't come out because of the pandemic,'" de Blasio said. "We don't want people to hear that as we are not hearing your concerns, or your concerns are not valid, or we don't have to change things, and it's a very tough balance."
The mayor expressed his concern for a possible increase in the spread of the coronavirus as protesters gather in large groups without socially distancing.
"There's a real danger here. There's no question this could intensify the spread of the coronavirus just at a point where we were starting to beat it back profoundly," he said.
De Blasio also noted that disparity pervades in both crises. "The racism that is inherent that happened in the pandemic is also inherent in all the concerns running through the policing debate," he said.