Capping off a week of protests and rallies in support of Long Island College Hospital (LICH), hundreds of supporters rallied this morning outside SUNY offices at 33 West 42nd Street in Midtown. Armed with 7,000 signed petitions from around the Brooklyn community calling for the reopening of the hospital, neighbors, nurses, and elected officials lined up, chanting “SAVE OUR HOSPITAL.”
Among those in the formation were mayoral candidates — Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, and Anthony Weiner — as well as Councilmembers Stephen Levin and Letitia James, NY State Nurses Association (NYSNA) President-Elect Judy Gonzales and Executive Director Jill Furillo, representatives of the Cobble Hill Association, and dozens of nurses, medical staff, and other supporters.
At 10 a.m., the protest began and elected officials began handing the petitions to SUNY representatives. NYPD vans and officers were already there and began ordering protestors “to leave [or] be placed under arrest” for disorderly conduct.
The protestors refused to move and by 11 a.m., 15 people were arrested, their hands tied behind their backs in plastic zip ties/handcuffs.
The rally’s organizers were NYSNA and 1199 SEIU.
Those arrested included de Blasio, Levin, Gonzales, and Furillo.
“By getting arrested, we are sending a message that we will not tolerate SUNY’s disturbing disregard of the courts orders,” explained Levin. “LICH provides vital healthcare to our community and must be kept open for care.”
Levin added that “nurses, doctors, community members, and elected officials stand together against the blatant attempt by SUNY Downstate to shutdown Long Island College Hospital [because] their actions fly in the face of the law and are literally risking the lives of Brooklyn residents.”
de Blasio echoed the protestor’s calls for SUNY Downstate to “stop its end run around a judge’s direct order” and for Governor Andrew Cuomo to “act to save LICH.”
“This is a moment for all New Yorkers to stand up and fight, and I’m proud to do my part,” he said.
Although Weiner and Liu avoided arrest, fellow mayoral candidate Sal Albanese, a former Councilmember in southern Brooklyn, called them out alongside de Blasio in a statement where he accused them of “putting personal gain above the public interest.
“Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: LICH must be saved, and it can be saved, but the political class lacks the courage to make it happen. [Bill de Blasio] lives a stone’s throw away from LICH, and hasn’t lifted a finger to save this vital community institution. . . Today, Bill jumped the shark. Desperate for headlines, he got himself arrested at a LICH rally. The nurses, doctors, and community members who have devoted their lives to saving healthcare in their neighborhoods will now be treated by the press as footnotes to a political charade. . . New Yorkers deserve better.”