NYPD Commissioner: Go Ahead and Protest Trump on New Year’s Eve—But Don’t Block the View

The city's top cop James O'Neill said that people can protest Donald Trump in Times Square on New Year's Eve as long as they don't block anyone's view.

Police Commissioner James O'Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed security preparations for New Year's Eve at NASDAQ Marketsite.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio discussed security preparations for New Year’s Eve at NASDAQ Marketsite. Madina Toure/Observer

Police Commissioner James O'Neill said that spectators are well within their rights to picket President-elect Donald Trump on New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but warned that cops will step in if they interfere with people’s ability to see the festivities.

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The NYPD is expecting some protest presence at the annual ball drop Saturday night, and is willing to accommodate them—up to a certain point. Flanked by Mayor Bill de Blasio and other department officials, O’Neill told reporters today that anybody who brings signs for or against the president-elect is welcome to do so as long as they are not interfering with spectators’ view, affirming individuals’ right to protest.

“You know what? People have a right to protest. If they’re interfering, if they’re obstructing the view of other spectators then that might be an issue and we might have to take police action there,” O’Neill said. “But you know New Yorkers and a lot of people from out of town come to this event and I think people behave very well that night and they all wanna make sure that they can see the ball drop.”

The NYPD said that 7,000 police officers have been assigned to New Year’s Eve patrol. O’Neill said that he does not anticipate that the millions of dollars in resources committed to shielding Trump Tower will not constitute any additional burden to the city during the high-profile event

He added that, though Trump has not confirmed that he’ll be toasting champagne in his hometown, he left the door open as to whether he will be around.

“We have a tremendous capacity in the New York City Police Department to cover events, so it’s not going to have an additional impact at 5-6 and 5 and I haven’t heard from the president-elect yet so I don’t think he’s coming,” he said. “But that might change, I guess.”

De Blasio—who is continuing his fight to get full reimbursement from the federal government for protecting Trump and his family—and Councilman Dan Garodnick, whose district includes Trump Tower, announced yesterday that 56th Street between 5th and 6th avenues will reopen to crosstown traffic after several weeks of closure. The NYPD will also relocate its mobile command post from the southwest corner of 56th Street to the northwest corner of 56th Street.

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media. 

NYPD Commissioner: Go Ahead and Protest Trump on New Year’s Eve—But Don’t Block the View