On December 20, the day that New York Police Department officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were murdered while they sat in their cruiser in Brooklyn, a petition was launched demanding the resignation of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Fifteen days and more than 65,300 signatures later, people are still signing it.
The petition was started on progressive advocacy website MoveOn.org by an anonymous contingent calling itself “The People of NYC.”
“Five days before Christmas, two NYPD officers were shot and killed in their cruiser for no apparent reason,” the petition reads. “With the recent news surrounding the NYPD and other law enforcement agencies around the country, our mayor blasted his own police department by throwing them under the bus.”
Police and their advocates have criticized de Blasio’s response to the anti-police-brutality protests that erupted in the wake of the Eric Garner decision on December 5. Most took particular exception to a speech the mayor gave in which he said he feared for his son’s safety vis-à-vis law enforcement.
“He is unfit to lead this city,” the petition continues. “He is unfit to have a relationship with his police department for his remaining tenure and he should be taken out of office IMMEDIATELY, with proper protocol to be followed to name a replacement before a special election.”
The organizers of the petition did not immediately respond to attempts by the Voice to reach them through MoveOn.org, and attempts to reach MoveOn.org through the website were unsuccessful.
The petition’s right-wing slant seems to have caused some hand-wringing for MoveOn volunteers, who review the website’s content. At the top of the petition, a banner reads: “This petition…either may not reflect MoveOn members’ progressive values, or…MoveOn members may disagree about whether to support this petition. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site.”
While MoveOn was distancing itself from the cause, police officers, too, were leery of the petition’s location. “Isn’t Moveon.org a George Soros Hate America group?” asked an officer with the username Southerncop1 on Thee Rant, a forum for police officers to speak their minds. “That moveon.org site was set up to gather emails and addresses of cops. Don’t sign it,” said TunnelRat.
That rumor was even answered by the petition’s organizers on the MoveOn site:
**There is a message going around within the nypd that this petition is a rouse [sic] from occupy wall street to get information on officers. Occupy wall street has ZERO CONTROL OR SAY IN THIS PETITION!!!!**
Despite suspicion from all sides, the MoveOn petitioners have amassed far more support than have their opponents. On the same website, two competing petitions to remove the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s lightning-rod president, Patrick Lynch, have garnered merely 3,450 and 210 signatures, respectively. That’s about one-sixteenth the number of people demanding Bill de Blasio’s resignation.
Denis Loof, a graduate student at the City University of New York, started the larger of the two Lynch petitions.
“I thought it was absurd that Lynch’s clearly inflammatory comments were getting no coverage,” he says, referring to remarks Lynch has made claiming that de Blasio is responsible for the attack on the two police officers and “has blood on his hands.” “Yet the mayor relayed a message to his son that parents of African American men across the country echo, and he was being attacked for it.”