New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may be ready to defend the right of Wall Street protesters to say what they want, but that does not mean he likes what he hears.
The mayor on Tuesday castigated the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators, saying they are unfairly blaming "hard working" Wall Street employees for the nation's ills.
"I don't appreciate the bashing of all the hard working people who live and work here and pay the taxes that support our city," said Bloomberg, during a press conference in a Bronx library.
"The city depends on Wall Street. Let's not forget, those taxes pay our teachers, pay our police officers, pay our firefighters. Those taxes we get from the profits companies and the incomes, they go to pay for this library."
The mayor's comments were similar to those he made Friday on his weekly radio show, where he accused the protesters of trying to undermine the city's economy.On Monday, Bloomberg would not set a time limit on how long the protest in Zuccotti Park would be allowed to continue.
Some protesters took that as a sign of the mayor softening his position.
But Bloomberg remained critical, even as he empathizes with the protest's message of frustration and defends the First Amendment right of free expression.
Asked what he thought about the protesters' march to the Fifth Avenue homes of some of the wealthiest new Yorkers, including Jamie Dimon of J.P. Morgan Chase, the mayor came down hard on the side of Dimon.
"Jamie Dimon is one of the great bankers," said Bloomberg. "He's brought more business to this city than any banker in (the) modern day. To go and picket him, I don't know what that achieves. Jamie Dimon is an honorable person, working very hard, paying his taxes."
Bloomberg also questioned why the protesters were picking on wealthy bankers and other corporate titans.
"There are a lot of people who make a lot of money," he noted. "You have actors and athletes and you have business people making a lot of money."
Despite his criticisms, Bloomberg again pledged to let the protests continue.
"This is a city that honors the First Amendment and will continue to do that just as long as people obey the law," he concluded.