Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s press conference this morning devolved into violence, as State Senator Brad Hoylman was slapped in the face and another Quinn supporter was attacked during a heated showdown over hospital closings.
The campaign event was initially supposed to give former State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick and Mr. Hoylman the opportunity to rail against rival mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio for his alleged inaction regarding the controversial closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital. But a group of anti-Quinn protesters were the only ones to make real noise.
“Shame, shame, shame on you,” the group chanted as the press conference was set to begin, drowning out Ms. Quinn’s supporters.
As the press conference continued, the voices grew louder, with the protesters proclaiming that Ms. Quinn–who was not present at the event–had “blood on her hands.” At one point, George Capsis, reportedly the publisher of the WestView News, who is known for causing scenes at local meetings, leapt in front of Mr. Duane, screaming: “You’re a fatuous idiot!” as he shook his fist.
The situation grew more intense as spokespeople for Ms. Quinn’s campaign attempted to get the man to leave. Instead, Mr. Capsis struck Mr. Hoylman in the face as he made his way out through the crowd.
After rejoining the protesters, Mr. Capsis hit another Quinn supporter in the face, prompting the supporter–an intern–to leave the scene in tears.
Later, Mr. Capsis tried to explained why he’d hit Mr. Hoylman.
“He’s a vacuous idiot. He never supported saving the hospital,” Mr. Capsis charged.
Asked if he felt bad about striking the Quinn supporter, Mr. Capsis revealed the real reason he was so upset today.
“I wasn’t prepared to tell you,” Mr. Capsis said, tearing up as he spoke to reporters. “My wife died two days ago. She was at a hospital in the Bronx. I had to travel an hour and a half to get to see her.”
“If this hospital had existed,” Mr. Capsis said, motioning to the corner of 12th Street and 6th Avenue, where condos now stand, “I could have walked two blocks and spent time with her in the last hours of her life.”
According to The Villager, Mr. Capsis has a history of violence and was charged last year with slapping a police officer “while in an apparent highly agitated state.”