Maya Wiley's first 30-second ad of the mayoral campaign June 1 opened with footage of two police cars slowly driving into protesters who were blocking their path, and officers using force during the protests a year ago following George Floyd's killing by a Minneapolis police officer.
Those images were followed by the unseen candidate's declaring "and New York's leaders defended it. But it was an injustice to those of us who know black lives matter."
Her face appearing in the video, she continued, "I'm Maya Wiley, and as a mom and civil-rights lawyer, I've had enough."
'I'll Transform Police'
The former chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board then said that if elected Mayor, "I'll transform the police and keep communities safe...it's time the NYPD sees us as people who deserve to breathe."
Condemnation from two of the police unions came quickly, with a particularly sharp barb delivered by Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins, who told The New York Post that she was "a de Blasio flunky," referring to Ms. Wiley's role as Counsel to the Mayor before her stint at the CCRB.
Ms. Wiley has done her best to distance herself from her former boss during the campaign, and the ad's line about the city's leaders defending police behavior during the protests seemed to be aimed directly at the Mayor, whose attempts to explain that some of the harsher responses by officers to protesters came after they were physically attacked or had incendiary weapons thrown at police vehicles drew criticism for his left.
Mr. Mullins pointed to her inability, despite having the endorsement of the giant private health-care workers union, Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, to inspire enthusiasm for her candidacy—polls have shown her running fourth or worse.
"Sadly," he told The Post, "her silence on the increasing violence in NYC is indicative of how out of touch she is with the city and explains why she's losing in the polls."
DEA: No Concern for Victims
The following afternoon, Detectives' Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo said in a phone interview, "I am a little surprised that that's her kick-off commercial. Given the number of people and the number of children being killed in the city lately, it surprises me that some candidates don't seem concerned about the victims."
Instead, he said, Ms. Wiley was among those who seemed intent on "demonizing the police."
The ad was released a day before the second Democratic primary debate, this one televised by WABC-TV, a particularly crucial one because it was the last before early primary voting begins June 12. (A final debate is scheduled for June 16, with the primary set for June 22.)
It also came out at a time when progressive support in the race is up for grabs. City Comptroller Scott Stringer still hasn't regained the momentum he was building until a former campaign volunteer in late April accused him of having molested her 20 years ago, even though he has disputed her account, saying they had a brief, consensual affair.
And Dianne Morales, the candidate furthest to the left in the field, has had her campaign rocked by charges that top aides behaved inappropriately towards other staffers, and an attempt to form a union sparking added charges that she was trying to bust it by firing those leading the drive—something she denied.
'Unfair to Us'
Asked whether he thought Ms. Wiley released the ad hoping to consolidate the progressive vote in the final three weeks before the primary, Mr. DiGiacomo replied, "I don't know what the motivation was, but I think it's unfair to portray the police in this manner."
Political consultant Maureen Connelly's take on the ad was, "I think she's trying to appeal to black voters and progressives, but she's not in the top tier of candidates, and candidates get desperate when they think they're losing."
Dredging up scenes from last year's protests at a time when the public is far more concerned about rises in murders and shootings, she continued, was "more of what we don't need. It's using a tragic situation for political advantage."
Noting that the ad has not been widely seen on TV, aside from an excerpt that NY1 ran as part of its news coverage, Ms. Connelly—who was a key campaign aide during the successful mayoral runs of Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg—likened the spot to a video press release, saying, "She wanted to get attention, and this was a cheap way to do it."
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