New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took a rare ride on the New York City subway on Sunday, July 23, followed by a pack of reporters, but something was missing from all the photos—the homeless people.
That is thanks to orders that police received to clear out the homeless from the stations along the mayor’s subway ride from his Park Slope gym to his new re-election headquarters in Brooklyn, according to a source who spoke to the New York Post.
Police had until 11 a.m. to clear out the Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street and Jay Street/MetroTech train stations on the F line. The directive came from the NYPD Transit Bureau via email, ordering the officers to “make sure nobody’s hanging out” so that the stations “looked nice.”
De Blasio traveled in an SUV motorcade from Gracie Mansion to his gym in Park Slope. He and his wife Chirlane McRay then swiped into the subway at the Fourth Avenue/Ninth Street station en route to his new campaign headquarters.
The mayor’s office gave advance notice to police of de Blasio’s route, another source told the Post, “with the expectation that the subway stations would be free and clear of homeless people.”
“It’s too bad he’s only interested when he’s going to get on the subway,” the source said. “I wish he had the same attention to detail when he wasn’t on the subway. Too bad he doesn’t care about quality of life for all passengers and not just himself.”
Ali Imtiaz, a newstand manager at the Jay Street/MetroTech station noticed that there were much fewer homeless people at the station on Sunday. Imtiaz said that he saw four police officers pass by his business at 10 a.m. and hoped that the officers would visit more often.
“It’s good for everybody that they clear out the homeless,” he said. “This should be continued. This is a very busy subway.”
Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, de Blasio’s Republican challenger in the mayoral race, lashed out at the mayor.
“For someone who claims to care about the most poor New Yorkers, to have someone clear his path when he’s about to board the subway … tells you all you need to know about Mayor de Blasio,” she said.
Chief spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, pointed out the staged nature of the event.
“The optics are terrible,” he said. “It looks like they don’t want them to intrude on a movie set.”
A spokesman for City Hall denied the allegations saying, “These sources are refusing to provide their names because what they are saying is not true.”
According to Eric Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, “The mayor had a few-minute chat with a homeless person” when he came out of the subway.