Ocasio-Cortez rips de Blasio after police cruiser drives into crowd of protesters

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Goya CEO dismisses critics for praise of Trump: 'I'm not apologizing' Trump tweets his support for Goya Foods amid boycott MORE (D-N.Y.) ripped New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Fauci says focus should be on pausing reopenings rather than reverting to shutdowns; WHO director pleads for international unity in pandemic response Trump calls New York City 'hellhole' after court upholds subpoena from city prosecutors NYPD retirements surge over 400 percent amid tensions with mayor MORE (D) over his response to footage of a police cruiser driving through a crowd of people in Brooklyn protesting the death of George Floyd.

De Blasio said Saturday that an investigation into the incident was underway. But he also defended the New York Police Department (NYPD) officers involved, saying he was not going to "blame" the people "who are trying to deal with an absolutely impossible situation."

Ocasio-Cortez later called his remarks "unacceptable," arguing that the actions can "never, ever be normalized."

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"As mayor, this police department is under your leadership," the first-term progressive congresswoman said. "This moment demands leadership and accountability from each of us. Defending and making excuses for NYPD running SUVs into crowds was wrong."

"Make it right. De-escalate," she added.

Video surfaced Saturday showing two NYPD SUVs being surrounded by a throng of demonstrators in Brooklyn who were protesting the death of Floyd, an African American man who died after being detained by officers in Minneapolis. 

The episode showed a crowd of protesters placing a barrier in front of one police vehicle as others threw what appeared to be water bottles at the car. A second NYPD cruiser then begins gradually moving through the crowd before the other abruptly accelerates, causing several people to fall to the pavement. 

As video of the incident began circulating online, Ocasio-Cortez called on de Blasio to ensure that the officers involved were "brought to justice."

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"They could've killed them, and we don't know how many they injured," she said. 

But during a press conference, de Blasio appeared to take more issue with behavior from the protesters. 

"I've seen that video and I've obviously heard about a number of other instances," he said. "It’s inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers. That’s wrong on its face, and that hasn’t happened in the history of protests in the city."

"In a situation like that, it’s a very, very tense situation. And imagine what it would be like, you’re just trying to do your job and then you see hundreds of people converging upon you," he added, noting that he wished the "officers had found a different approach."

De Blasio also suggested that some involved in the protests in New York were only there to "agitate and to attack those who protect us, our police officers."

The comments came amid escalating tensions throughout the nation in response to the death of Floyd.

Floyd, 46, died in Minneapolis last Monday after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while executing an arrest. Footage of the arrest, which showed Floyd repeatedly saying, "I cannot breathe," set off a spree of violent protests, with Saturday representing the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations and clashes between protesters and police. 

The arresting officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He and three other officers were fired.