New York City public advocate Bill de Blasio was lead 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 for help, but the legislative session ended last month with no rescue package, and locally Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn closed 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.
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.
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.