The largest senior police officers' union in the country is asking that the Democratic National Convention stay out of New York City.
Members of the Sergeant Benevolent Association (SBA) cautioned Democrats against hosting their next convention at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, because of increasing problems. Ed Mullins, SBA president, this week addressed a letter to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in which he described a city experiencing "degradation."
"While the Barclays Center is still new and glistening, the great city in which it stands is lurching backwards to the bad old days of high crime, danger-infested public spaces, and families that walk our streets worried for their safety," Mullins wrote, adding that he disagrees with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's request to host the event in one of the city's five boroughs. The letter appeared as full-page advertisements in several newspapers, including The New York Times.
Mullins cites previously reported statistics, including that shootings have risen by 13% citywide since last year. He writes that "the squeegee people" have reappeared on the streets and in subway stations alongside panhandlers and con men.
De Blasio responded to the union, saying the letter is part of an attempt to strengthen the group's position in contract negotiations.
"It's fear-mongering to try and benefit their own position in labor talks, and that’s just not responsible," said the mayor, whose approval rating remains steady at 50%.
Mullins, who joined the New York City Police Department more than 30 years ago, commends his colleagues for dealing with the issues, but criticizes de Blasio's "diminished support" for officers. He warns that New York could split into two different cities: One part consisting of citizens who follow the law, and the other area populated by anti-safety politicians pursuing their own agendas.
"The DNC should choose another venue," he wrote. "It is no time for ambitious local politicians and political 'wannabees' who ignore public safety to bask in the spotlight of a national event made possible by the sweat and hard work of law enforcement."
Mullins said de Blasio's deference to Rev. Al Sharpton has divided the city and undermined the NYPD. Sharpton, who leads the National Action Network, held a rally on Staten Island last Saturday in memory of Eric Garner, a local African-American man who died earlier this summer after police placed him in a chokehold.
New York, along with five other cities — Birmingham, Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Phoenix — submitted bids earlier this year to host the 2016 DNC. New York City appears to be the outlier, though, because of the Empire State's consistently blue voting record.
The previous convention in 2012 was hosted by residents in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC, which organizes the quadrennial event, is expected to decide on a location by the beginning of 2015.
Republicans will gather in Cleveland for their 2016 convention.