Earlier today, an event criticizing one of Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s mayoral rivals descended into chaos as an elderly local showed up and violently struck several Quinn supporters, including State Senator Brad Hoylman and a campaign intern.
The attacker, George Capsis, was upset at Ms. Quinn for not doing enough to stop the closure of St. Vincent’s hospital. But, needless to say, Ms. Quinn does not believe violence is the answer to this dispute.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms any individual, group, or campaign that would commit or condone such repugnant behavior and would urge every campaign or individual involved in the mayor’s race to do the same,” Ms. Quinn said in a statement issued this afternoon.
“I want to extend my sincerest appreciation to Senator Hoylman, his 2 year-old daughter, Senator Tom Duane, our local community supporters who were in attendance, and my staff for the grace and professionalism that they showed in the face of such abhorrent behavior,” she added. “I am pleased to say that while shaken up, everyone is doing fine.”
Most of the protesters were apparently affiliated with the anti-Quinn group “New York City is Not for Sale 2013,” but the group’s spokeswoman, Chelsea Connor, told Politicker that Mr. Capsis was not associated with their efforts. The overly-aggressive heckler made his way over to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s hospital rally after disrupting Ms. Quinn’s event, but it’s not clear whom he supports in the mayor’s race.
Reacting to today’s news, Mr. de Blasio called for the public to remain peaceful before he started his own press conference.
“But first, I just want to note, you know, there was a press event earlier this morning,” he said. “And it got a little heated. People with strong views on both sides. And that’s normal in democracy, people are going to have strong views. But I want to emphasize, we have to be respectful, of course always peaceful, in expressing our views. We’re going to let people know what we think, but we’re going to respect people even when we disagree with them. And there’s no problem in a democracy having strong differences of opinion as long as we keep it respectful. Am I right? Alright.”
For their part, the anti-Quinn group released a lengthy statement cheering their involvement in today’s protest.
“New Yorkers are tired of hearing Christine Quinn’s excuses for why she repeatedly ignored the will of the people and ‘delivered’ for real estate developers and the ‘one percent’ of our City,” said Allie Feldman, executive director of of the animal rights organization NYCLASS, a coalition partner of NYC Not 4 Sale. “We protested her press conference today because New Yorkers deserve to know the truth about what happened to St. Vincent’s hospital.”
Updated (4:30 p.m.) Added Mr. de Blasio’s remarks. Additional reporting by Gideon Resnick.