Here’s what Democratic mayoral candidate (and incumbent mayor) Bill de Blasio, Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis and independent mayoral candidate Bo Dietl had to say about the Charlottesville violence and President Trump’s statement. Each spoke just ahead of today’s Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan; de Blasio in a statement to an assembled press pack (without taking any questions) and Malliotakis and Dietl in separate brief interviews with me. Video of their respective full statements is below.
Bill de Blasio:
Mayor de Blasio was direct and unequivocal in his criticism of both the white supremacist protesters and President Trump for his failure to condemn those protesters. He began by referring to the “attack in Charlottesville” as domestic terror. He then criticized President Trump’s diffidence, saying that “this should not be something that its hard for anyone to say, this was an act of domestic terrorism.” de Blasio urged the president to “do more, speak out” and “condemn the white supremist movement.” He urged Trump “to say squarely he will not accept any support, any friendship, any alliance with right wing white supremist groups who attack innocent civilians and attack law enforcement.” de Blasio also voiced support for removing Confederate statues and symbols.
Malliotakis, a Republican member of the Assembly from Staten Island, described the violence as “terrible” and characterized it as “clear hatred and bigotry.” She seemed to echo some of President Trump’s reaction, however, making a generic call for an end to violence without any assessment of the cause of that violence or any express criticism of the neo-Nazi and white supremacist views of the Charlottesville protesters. Malliotakis said “we gotta end the violence” and “continue to work together as a nation”, adding “all lives matter.” When I asked whether President Trump’s Saturday afternoon statement was sufficient Malliotakis simply replied “I didn’t see the whole statement” and did not offer any view. When I asked whether its important to denounce by name the neo-Nazi and Klan-type groups involved Malliotakis responded with a broad view supporting “peace” and saying “we need to work together to denounce violence and hatred and bigotry when it happens.” She then said that “we shouldn’t be looking in any way to pit communities against each other, what we have to do is send the message that all lives matter.”
Dietl, a former NYPD detective who runs his own private investigation business, made little distinction between the neo-Nazi/white supremacist protesters and the counterprotesters. He initially spoke of the challenge for police during the demonstration, saying that they should separate the groups in order to prevent violent clashes without a focus on “who’s right or wrong.” When I asked whether President Trump’s Saturday afternoon statement was sufficient Dietl offered that “I condemn neo-Nazis, I condemn the ultra-left, I condemn anyone that’s banked on violence. As far as I’m concerned, both sides are wrong.” He then returned to his focus on police actions, saying that the police on scene should have kept the groups apart, particularly since many came equipped with helmets, sticks and pepper spray. Dietl concluded by saying that “the president has to speak up against all, the neo-Nazis and the left-wingers, each side” for engaging in violence.