Public Advocate Bill de Blasio arrested during protest against hospital closure

In what his office hailed as an act of “civil disobedience,” Public Advocate and mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio was arrested Wednesday during a protest against the closure of Brooklyn’s Long Island College Hospital.

“We are going to lose a vital community hospital in a matter of weeks unless something changes,” de Blasio said in a statement after being arrested for disorderly conduct.

De Blasio and other politicians joined nurses and healthcare workers to rally outside SUNY’s Midtown offices, protesting SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s moves toward closing the Cobble Hill hospital.

Though SUNY has said it would not seek to close the hospital, ambulances have been diverted from its emergency room. A judge ordered the hospital to retain enough staff to function, but the facility has still cleared out intensive care units, refusing to take in new patients in some wards, de Blasio and other protestors charge.

On Sunday, de Blasio sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to intervene.

“The Governor must act to save LICH, and SUNY Downstate must stop its end run around a judge’s direct order and commit to keeping this hospital up and running,” de Blasio said Wednesday.

Credit: Public Advocate's Office
Credit: Public Advocate’s Office

Two other mayoral candidates, Anthony Weiner and City Comptroller John Liu, were also at the protest but were not arrested. City Council member Stephen Levin was also arrested, along with the president and executive director of the New York State Nurses Association.

Another Democratic candidate, former City Council member Sal Albanese, alleged de Blasio got himself arrested on purpose because he was “desperate for headlines.”

Albanese, after touting his involvement in the cause, also slammed Weiner and Liu for participating in the protest.

“Johnny-come-latelys like Bill de Blasio, John Liu, and Tony Weiner are putting personal gain above the public interest. New Yorkers deserve better,” Albanese said in a statement.

A de Blasio campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Albanese’s allegations.

As a City Council member, de Blasio was previously arrested in 2003 with the actor Steve Buscemi while protesting the closure of a Brooklyn firehouse.

After being arrested Wednesday, de Blasio said he was “proud” for his role in the protest.

“This is a moment for all New Yorkers to stand up and fight, and I’m proud to do my part,” he said.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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