President Trump criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday for the second-term mayor’s decision to cut roughly $1 billion from the city’s police department budget.
In a morning Twitter rant, Trump tossed red meat to blue-uniform sympathizers and white supremacists, saying the move to cut the NYPD budget was made worse by an unrelated decision to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which he said would denigrate “this luxury Avenue.”
….horrible BLM chant, “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon”. Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2020
In tweets, the President called the installation of a street painting reading “Black Lives Matter” — a phrase associated with a movement of the same name — “a symbol of hate.” The BLM movement has condemned racism and police violence in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis over Memorial Day weekend. Trump also suggested that the sign reflected the mayor’s disrespect for the police.
The move to pit police against a movement for racial justice is the latest in the president’s continued attempts at putting his reelection at the center of a culture war that demonizes the nation’s reckoning with racial inequality.
Ironically, de Blasio was the subject of faltering enthusiasm last month among former supporters who criticized his response to anti-racism protests which yielded many instances of police violence against largely peaceful demonstrators.
In a press conference on Tuesday, the mayor called the trimming of one-sixth of the NYPD’s $6 billion budget a “balancing act.” It will involve the cancellations of plans to hire roughly 1,160 officers in July. It will also shift officers away from school safety and away from policing illegal vendors and homeless people on the street.
In spite of the cuts, the New York Times reported that a fall class of officers is still expected to begin training in October. That fact has upset some lawmakers who have noted that a hiring freeze by the city for some others — including teachers — will remain in place for the next year.
“Defunding police means defunding police,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said in a statement on Monday, criticizing the mayor for using “budget tricks” and “funny math” that moves police officers from one city budget to the next.
The mayor told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough in an interview on Wednesday that the “Black Lives Matter” sign could help the President, who just days ago retweeted a video that included a man crying “white power,” grasp a message “that he still doesn’t understand.”
“Maybe seeing it outside of his doorstep will help him get the point,” de Blasio said.