New York Mayor Defends Decision to Attend Hamburg G-20 Protest

  • De Blasio says cities need to push for progress on climate
  • Faces criticism from possible opponent for leaving town

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s facing re-election this year, defended his decision to fly to Germany and speak at a protest on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting, arguing that cities need to work around global leaders to fight climate change and income inequality.

Bill de Blasio

Photographer: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

“It’s a variation on the concept of voting with your feet,” de Blasio, a Democrat, said in an interview before speaking at the “Hamburg Shows Attitude” protest on Saturday. “While the national governments will probably only make limited progress, the rest of us don’t have that choice. If we make only limited progress we’ll only be going backwards.”

Critics said de Blasio was going to Hamburg to grandstand on a global stage while ignoring the city’s problems, and that he’d left town too soon after the July 5 killing in the Bronx of police officer Miosotis Familia.

Eric Phillips, de Blasio’s spokesman, said the mayor only agreed to go after making sure he would be able to attend Familia’s funeral, scheduled for July 11. He returns to New York on Sunday.

De Blasio, who met Hamburg’s mayor on Friday, said he wanted to study the German city’s approach to renewable energy and early-childhood education. He said it was also important to make sure people understand President Donald Trump’s views are not shared by all Americans.

“We almost have Washington as an island at this point, unrepresentative of the views of the American people on many levels, and that’s going to take a different kind of politics to address,” de Blasio said.

The organizers of the rally where de Blasio, 56, was to speak distanced themselves from the sometimes violent protests that have roiled the city during the G-20 event. New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Association nonetheless kept up its criticism, tweeting that 160 police had been injured during the protests. “Whose side are you on, Mr. Mayor??” the group said.

De Blasio’s presumptive Republican opponent in November’s mayoral election, Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, posted an image on Twitter of de Blasio’s face photo-shopped onto a picture of a man in lederhosen sitting in front of tall glasses of beer and a plate stacked with sausage and sauerkraut.

“While #NYC ’s subways crumble, sex crimes increase double digits, litter on streets pile up & the number of street homeless soars... #G20,” Malliotakis wrote.

De Blasio’s son Dante, a student at Yale University, is spending the summer in Germany and attended some events in Hamburg with his father on Friday.

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