NEW YORK (PIX11) - Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio was among those arrested Wednesday at the State University of New York’s midtown offices while protesting the planned closure of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.
“We’re going to stay here and we’re going to fight to make sure Long Island College Hospital stays open and every hospital stays open,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to stand our ground, right here, because all SUNY’s telling us today is they have nothing to say.
After refusing to move from the front doors of the office building, police arrested both de Blasio and Brooklyn Councilman Steve Levin, among others.
De Blasio, who is running for mayor, is strongly backing Brooklyn’s LICH and Interfaith Medical Center. His campaign is circulating a petition and de Blasio is calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to step in to prevent the hospitals’ closures.
“We are going to lose a vital community hospital in a matter of weeks unless something changes. The Governor must act to save LICH, and SUNY Downstate must stop its end run around a judge’s direct order and commit to keeping this hospital up and running. This is a moment for all New Yorkers to stand up and fight, and I’m proud to do my part,” de Blasio said in a statement on his website.
Brooklyn Councilman Steve Levin also left the protest in cuffs after refusing police orders to move from the front doors. Levin, who represents Brooklyn’s 33rd District, tweeted this picture of him getting arrested:
SUNY Downstate took over LICH on May 29, 2011, and since then claims that the hospital has been losing millions each month. To mitigate those losses, the SUNY board of trustees decided in March to start closing LICH.
While the hospital may not be profiting, some of the employees clearly are.
According to the New York State Controller’s Office, 34 of the top 100 highest paid state employees are employed by SUNY Downstate.
The total cost for those salaries totals more than $16.2 million.
Joe Mauceri contributed to this report.