The New York Police Department was ordered to remove the homeless people from a subway route so that Mayor Bill de Blasio wouldn’t have to interact with them during a four-stop press event.
The New York Post reported that law enforcement officials told them that an email from the NYPD’s Transit Bureau instructed police officers to “make sure nobody’s hanging out” so that the stations “looked nice.”
The mayor’s office notified police leaders of de Blasio’s schedule ahead of time “with the expectation that the subway stations would be free and clear of homeless people,” the NY Post reported.
“It’s too bad he’s only interested when he’s going to get on the subway,” the source told the newspaper. “I wish he had the same attention to detail when he wasn’t on the subway. Too bad he doesn’t care about quality of life for all passengers and not just himself.”
The NY Post described the subway system as decrepit and described the homeless as “foul-smelling and often crazy vagrants” that regular city residents have to contend with every day.
A newsstand manager near the mayor’s route told the NY Post he was shocked that there weren’t more homeless around.
“I see a lot of homeless people in a week — up to 25. On average five a day. Today, I have seen only one,” Ali Imtiaz told the newspaper. “I was asking my colleague today why we don’t see any homeless.”
Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers Campaign, criticized the removal of the homeless for the benefit of the mayor.
“The optics are terrible,” he said. “It looks like they don’t want them to intrude on a movie set.”
A City Hall spokesman denied that any homeless were kicked out of the subway and told the newspaper “these sources are refusing to provide their names because what they are saying is not true.”
De Blasio press secretary Eric Phillips said that “the mayor had a few-minute chat with a homeless person” upon emerging from the subway.
The New York Times reported that although the mayor has advocated for NY citizens to take the subway, he generally avoids it.