Council Speaker Corey Johnson revealed Tuesday that anti-police demonstrators have harassed his boyfriend — even vandalizing his building in Williamsburg — as protests over NYPD funding intensified in recent days.
“I support people having the right to protest and expressing themselves, I think social justice movements have been fueled by that,” Johnson (D-Manhattan) told reporters during his press conference after Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed the budget deal.
“But, the vandalism of where my significant other lives, and the ringing of his buzzer at all hours in the middle of the night — he’s not a public figure. I am,” the speaker continued. “And even though it’s not great sometimes, I recognize that I’m a public figure.”
“This has been personally painful, I don’t want to sugar coat it,” Johnson said, of the harassment. “This has been hard and trying.”
Johnson and his beau, Ernest Martin, went public with their relationship last summer and have frequently posted heartwarming pictures of each other on their social media pages.
“People have been coming to my partner’s home multiple days over the last few weeks, at all hours,” Johnson said. “And that vandalism was to a building that’s owned by a person of color.”
He added: “My partner doesn’t own that building, he’s a renter. So, that vandalism — it’s probably thousands of dollars to clean up.”
The protesters hit Martin’s building, even as Johnson says he was campaigning to build support for additional funding cuts and reforms at NYPD.
“I look at myself as someone who’s been trying to achieve the demands that these people have been asking for,” a clearly frustrated Johnson said. “I know they don’t think it’s good enough, and they don’t think it’s far enough.”
But, he added, “I have to balance what the members of the Council want, and the Mayor wouldn’t move on some things.”
Johnson’s not alone.
Other lawmakers on his budget negotiating team said they have been targeted and harassed by hard-line protestors, who were demanding the NYPD see up to half of its $6 billion budget cut and police officers laid off.
They comprise just a small fraction of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who hit the streets in peaceful protests to voice their outrage over the captured-on-video death of George Floyd, who died in police custody after a cop in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in a death reminiscent of Eric Garner’s on Staten Island in 2014.
While those massive protests called for police reforms — like repealing secrecy laws that protected disciplinary records from release — and cuts to the NYPD’s budget, they typically sought a far smaller amount: $1 billion.