Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a defiant challenge Monday to President-elect Donald Trump from the stage of the historic Cooper Union in Manhattan, saying New York City would not comply with federal policies that threaten its residents’ rights.
“We will use all the tools at our disposal to stand up for our people,” the Democratic mayor said in his first major address since Trump’s election.
He vowed before a receptive audience of hundreds to protect Muslim New Yorkers from any requirement to register and undocumented, law-abiding New Yorkers from deportation. De Blasio said he sought to “deputize” residents of the city to report hate and bias incidents and stand up for their fellow New Yorkers.
“If all Muslims are required to register, we will take legal action to block it. If the federal government wants our police officers to tear families apart, we will refuse to do it,” de Blasio said.
Trump and representatives of his incoming administration did not immediately respond to de Blasio’s speech.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Sunday talk shows had sought to reassure anxious Americans that Trump would serve as president to all Americans.
De Blasio spoke with a diverse crowd seated behind him with people of various races and religions. The venue he chose had hosted Abraham Lincoln in 1860 for a speech questioning the spread of slavery.
De Blasio did not use Trump’s name during the remarks, which came just five days after the mayor and president-elect met at Trump Tower.
“My essential message to him was to remember where you came from,” de Blasio said of Trump’s New York City roots.
In one section of his speech — which his team promoted for its refrain of “Always New York” — the mayor listed the various groups he said Trump has threatened or offended during the Republican real estate mogul’s presidential campaign, from Latinos to African-Americans to women to Muslims.
“To all of you, we will protect you. This is your home,” de Blasio said. “We are 8.5 million strong and we ain’t changing. We are always New York.”
He repeated the line in Spanish to applause.
The mayor, who backed Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House, noted that Trump had won the Electoral College vote but is losing the popular vote by a widening margin.
“There is not a mandate in this election for division or for undercutting opportunity,” he said.