His mouth buried in a bullhorn, Lincoln Restler howled at the tinted windows in front of him.
“I see you didn’t bring your daughters to dinner!” the Democratic activist shouted at a slew of dark-suited men slipping soundlessly into the sumptuous Williamsburg restaurant.
“Ooh,” mumbled a grinning police officer. “That was harsh.”
Though Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the ex-boss of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, never appeared at the small protest in Williamsburg yesterday, he was the sole reason for its existence. Mr. Lopez, accused of sexually harassing his staffers last year, was hosting his first fund-raiser for a potential City Council bid that has enraged many of the Democrats that he once dominated as Brooklyn’s power broker. Wielding their “Molester-Free Zone” signs and cutting slogans, Mr. Restler and his New Kings Democrats club sought to shame Mr. Lopez’s allies and demonstrate their strong opposition to his possible campaign. Mr. Lopez has denied all the allegations.
“Vito Lopez must understand that his actions have deeply offended Brooklynites,” Mr. Restler, a former district leader who lost his post to an ally of Mr. Lopez last year, told Politicker at the protest. “We are going to fight his and his campaign every step of the way, that any single person who believes that they should still associate themselves with this sexual predator will feel the wrath of progressive Brooklynites.”
A little over a dozen protesters, many of them belonging to N.K.D., stood in a cordoned off area just outside the property of the restaurant, Giando on the
The candidate at the center of the anti-Lopez campaign, Antonio Reynoso, was not at the rally. Nor was the term-limited incumbent, Councilwoman Diana Reyna, another Lopez foe. However, one candidate, Stephen Pierson, who’s challenging Mr. Lopez’s former chief of staff Councilman Steve Levin in a neighboring district, stood quietly in the throng of protesters.
Across the street, a cluster of Hasidim gawked at the protesters, at times filming them with their smartphones. One of them, a member of a smaller, anti-Lopez sect, told Politicker between cigarette puffs that he hated Mr. Lopez and hoped he and his allies could finally lose an election.
“He’s disgusting, don’t you think?” he asked.
Some of the protesters conceded that defeating Mr. Lopez, an assemblyman in Brooklyn since 1984, could be an uphill battle, even with the bevy of labor unions and high-profile elected officials flocking to Mr. Reynoso. Still, America Ruiz, a 30 year resident of south Williamsburg, said she was willing to fight on.
“We are not a manor here, this is a community and he decides what is going on here like this is his manor,” she said. “He controls the lives of the people here, who is elected. He is not for the community.”
For his part, Mr. Lopez told Politicker yesterday that he was somewhat baffled by the then-upcoming protest, but argued it should be the voters who decide who represents them if he indeed runs for the City Council.
“It seems like they’re putting a lot of time and energy into preventing me from running, even though I haven’t yet decided to run,” Mr. Lopez said over the phone. “You wonder–they’re a reform group–why would they want to spend energy to prevent somebody from running in an election? That doesn’t seem like reform.”
Correction: This story originally incorrectly stated that State Sen. Martin Dilan attended the fund-raiser for Mr. Lopez.