EPA boss rips Cuomo, de Blasio over protests, threatens to relocate NYC office
WASHINGTON — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday threatened to yank the federal agency’s office out of Lower Manhattan, blaming the ongoing protests that have roiled the city for months and targeted federal workers.
In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, a copy of which was obtained by The Post, Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler torched the duo’s leadership and lashed into them for their failure to act during the July “Occupy City Hall” protests which damaged the EPA office and surrounding buildings.
Wheeler also pointed to anti-ICE demonstrations last week where at least a dozen people were arrested, and said he had received intelligence from law enforcement that the group wanted to create a “Portland like” demonstration targeting the campus they work on.
“If you cannot demonstrate that EPA employees will be safe accessing our City offices, then I will begin the process of looking for a new location for our headquarters outside of the City that can maintain order,” Wheeler wrote.
“I have an obligation to our employees and if the City is unwilling or incapable of doing its job, I will do mine and move them to a location that can competently fulfill the basic mission of a local government,” he continued.
The EPA chief who was appointed to the role by President Trump in July 2018 said he was forced to keep home staff that needed access to their office on 260 Broadway last week because he feared for their safety.
“The demonstrators engaged in unwarranted, violent activity at the facility, breaking windows and defacing/destroying government property,” Wheeler wrote.
“In the extreme, protestors smashed a turnstile door and forcefully entered the lobby of 26 Federal Plaza,” he added, referring to the neighboring Jacob K. Javits Federal Building which houses the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
The violent anti-ICE protest comes just months after a large anti-cop encampment in City Hall Park was allowed to swell in June and July as hundreds of protesters demanded a $1 billion cut to the NYPD budget in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
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De Blasio said the protesters were welcome to stay in the park even as they covered municipal buildings with anti-cop graffiti, looted surrounded businesses, engaged in tense stand-offs with police, and assaulted a New York Post reporter.
Under political pressure, Hizzoner finally ordered police covered in riot gear to bust up the camp in late July, leaving the cash-strapped MTA with a $17,000 clean up bill after protesters turned subway vents into makeshift latrines.
In his letter to the Empire State officials, Wheeler said Federal Protective Services — the uniformed police division of Homeland Security — notified him that a firearm was discharged at the Occupy City Hall Camp and that at least one projectile penetrated the EPA office’s glass façade.
“Throughout these incidents, FPS has engaged EPA and other tenants to keep us informed of potential threats,” he wrote.
“However, maintaining law and order in New York City is not their responsibility; it is yours,” he added.
“Public safety is a core mission of state and local governments and your failure to fulfill that mission is putting EPA employees at risk,” he went on, demanding state and city officials to brief EPA’s regional leaders on what they were doing to keep employees in the Big Apple safe.
Representatives for both Cuomo and de Blasio did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Monday, The Post revealed that New York City was among three cities labeled “anarchist jurisdictions” by the Justice Department and could lose federal funding for defunding cops and failing to control protesters.
Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., were the other two cities on the list, which was approved by US Attorney General William Barr.