BREAKING : Bill de Blasio Was Arrested in an Act of Civil Disobedience to Save LICH.
New York City public advocate Bill de Blasio was led away in handcuffs after reports that a peaceful demonstration to save Long Island College Hospital from closing turned into an act of civil disobedience.
A demonstration had been scheduled Wednesday morning to apply political pressure on SUNY management officials. SUNY will decide whether LICH remains open or is closed as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's radical healthcare cuts to window dress the New York State budget in advance of his expected bid for the 2016 presidential race.
Healthcare activists, hospital employees, and healthcare union officials have been trying for months to appeal for help from politicians from Albany to City Hall, but the state legislative session ended last month with no rescue package, and locally Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn concluded next years budget negotiations without making any provision to save LICH from closure.
In the last few weeks, activists had been holding many demonstrations, rallies, and other acts of protest to draw attention to the plight of Brooklyn hospitals. Since 2006, ten New York City hospitals have either closed or downsized, and the remaining hospitals are over-burnded. Wait times at emergency rooms are escalating, and patients in life-or-death situations are having to take longer and longer ambulance rides to get to the next nearest emergency room. To make matters worse, Gov. Cuomo empaneled a group called the Medicaid Redesign Team to identify three more hospitals to close in Brooklyn.
On Feb. 8, 2011, four community activists were arrested in an act of civil disobedience to save St. Vincent's Hospital, but the community received no support from Speaker Quinn. At a rally outside of Gov. Cuomo's office on Monday, Mr. de Blasio accused Mayor Bloomberg of just walking away from the community after St. Vincent's Hospital closed. St. Vincent's activists don't remember Mr. de Blasio being involved in the herculean effort to first save St. Vincent's and then to later preserve the hospital infrastructure for a replacement hospital. But pressure politics from this year's mayoral campaign season has finally pushed him to take bold action. Many St. Vincent's activists noted that it was about time that Mr. de Blasio took action, after all, he is the city's Public Advocate.
Speaker Quinn accepted $30,000 in campaign donations from Rudin Management Company before she approved the billion-dollar Rudin condo conversion plan for St. Vincent's Hospital.