Politico New York

8:29 p.m. | Feb. 18, 2016

De Blasio says his remarks about Dante and police should not have been controversial


AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
Mayor Bill de Blasio, right, and his son, Dante, march in the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, September 2014.

After Mayor Bill de Blasio remarked a little more than a year ago that he had had to “train” his son Dante, who is black, on “how to take special care in any encounter" with police officers, he initially defended his words. But after the deaths of two police officers in late December 2014, the mayor has largely refrained from revisiting what he said, even when prompted.

The comments angered police at the time, and contributed to his rocky relationship with the NYPD during his first year in office. Last July — on the one-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner, with tensions between the mayor and the police relatively calmed — de Blasio declined to answer a question about whether he believed that advice to his son was still needed.

On Thursday, however, the mayor opened up.

In a panel discussion alongside New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, de Blasio defended his earlier remarks in the strongest language he has used since he first made them. In a wide-ranging answer to a question about his opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement, de Blasio said, “I spoke about the conversations Chirlane and I had with our son Dante about how he had to comport himself in any dealings with the police, and I said something that hundreds of thousands of Americans acknowledge as their reality, families of color know they have to do it."

“Of course it became a huge controversy, but it shouldn’t be a controversy because it’s true, and we have to grapple with it, and we have to change it,” the mayor said.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch, in a statement responding to de Blasio's comments Thursday night, said "Biases come in all sizes and shapes and it's time for the Mayor to recognize his bias against police."

-- Additional reporting from Azi Paybarah