Newspaper Editor Slaps Quinn Volunteer and State Senator at Rally
WEST VILLAGE — A West Village-based newspaper publisher attacked a state senator and a volunteer for mayoral candidate Christine Quinn at an event touting her record, he admitted Monday.
WestView News publisher George Capsis said he slapped state Sen. Brad Hoylman and a young man holding a Quinn sign during an 11:30 a.m. rally at the site of the shuttered St. Vincent's Hospital because he was so angry about the hospital's closure.
"I have so much pent-up anger," Capsis said after the incident. "If you bring [the volunteer] over here, I'd hit him again."
“My wife died two days ago. She was at a hospital in the Bronx. I had to travel an hour and a half to get to see her,” Capsis explained, saying his wife Andromache Capsis died of lung cancer at the age of 87. "If this hospital had existed, I could have walked two blocks and spent time with her in the last hours of her life."
Capsis said he struck Hoylman because he wasn't listening to him and then attacked the volunteer because he tried to pull Capsis away from the state senator.
"They sent [the volunteer] to take me away, the little pipsqueak," Capsis said.
Capsis was issued a violation for harassment but was not arrested on Monday, police sources said.
Reached by phone after the incident, Hoylman said neither he nor his 2-year-old daughter, who was with him when the attack happened, were injured.
"There's no place for violence in our democratic process. None," Hoylman said.
Capsis' attack occurred as a handful of anti-Quinn protesters tried to shout Hoylman and other pro-Quinn speakers down in a bid "to intimidate people," the state senator said.
"I'm concerned that this kind of behavior has a chilling effect, whether you're a volunteer or a citizen supporting a … candidate," Hoylman said. He called on all of the mayoral campaigns to make "clear and unequivocal" statements denouncing the actions at the Quinn rally.
Quinn's office confirmed that the young man who was struck was a volunteer for the campaign but did not reveal his identity. He did not appear to have been seriously injured, witnesses said.
Quinn decried the violence in a statement issued Monday afternoon, saying she was "deeply upset" to hear about it.
"There is no place in this city — let alone [in] a political campaign — for violence or intimidation of any kind," she said in the statement. "I condemn in the strongest possible terms any individual, group or campaign that would commit or condone such repugnant behavior, and would urge every campaign or individual involved in the mayor’s race to do the same."
Critics have accused Quinn of not doing enough to keep St. Vincent's Hospital open, but her office and supporters argue she fought more than anyone to preserve it.
"Christine Quinn fought to keep St. Vincent's open more than anyone else I know," Hoylman said before the attack. He suggested that de Blasio did not fight alongside neighborhood leaders to keep the hospital open.
"There are workhorses and there are show ponies, and there are certainly some show ponies in this race," he said.
Capsis left the Quinn rally after the altercation to attend a neighboring rally for mayoral contender and chief Quinn opponent Bill de Blasio. He said he is a de Blasio supporter.
De Blasio addressed the attack at the start of his press conference Monday, saying, "I want to emphasize, we have to be respectful, of course always peaceful, in expressing our views. We're going to let people know what we think, but we're going to respect people even when we disagree with them."
Capsis was arrested in 2012 when he slapped a uniformed police officer near Bleecker and Leroy streets, according to The Villager.