Police officers turned their backs on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday during the funeral for Wenjan Lieu one of two NYPD officers killed in a Dec. 20 ambush, exposing the ongoing rift between the department and City Hall.
The officers were seen turning away from an outdoor screen showing de Blasio’s eulogy at the service in Brooklyn, defying a request by New York Police Commissioner William Bratton not to protest at the funeral.
“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” Bratton wrote in a memo toofficers on Friday, less than a week after officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the funeral of Rafael Ramos, the other NYPD slain officer. “I remind you that when you don the uniform of this department, you are bound by the tradition, honor, and decency that go with it.” Bratton said. But Bratton, like just about every other NYC police commissioner, has little or no control of the department in his charge.
While he made “no threats of discipline,” Bratton said he did not support the actions of those officers who “stole the valor, honor, and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of detective Rafael Ramos’ life and sacrifice.”
Thousands of officers joined in Sunday’s protest.
Bratton said he believes the divide triggered by de Blasio’s response to the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer, on Staten Island — will continue for the foreseeable future.
“I think it’s probably a rift that is going to go on for a while longer,” Bratton said. “They really do feel under attack.”
“As we start a new year, a year we’re entering with hearts that are doubly heavy,” de Blasio said in his remarks Sunday, “let us rededicate ourselves to those great New York traditions of mutual understanding and living in harmony. Let us move forward by strengthening the bonds that unite us, and let us work together to attain peace.”
The rift started with Mayor DeBlasio and the police department when he chose to aire on the side of caution as opposed to jumping to the defense of the department. It has been alleged that the mayors hesitance to come to the NYPD's defense is due in large part to the fact that his son is African-American.
This is not the first time that the NYPD has been at odds with a mayor.
The man who would unseat Mr. Dinkins in 1993, Republican Rudolph Giuliani, was the ringleader of the 1992 police protest. At the time Mr. de Blasio was a young, unknown aide to Mr. Dinkins, one witness to the dawn of what became a two-decade drought for Democrats at City Hall.
And now Mr. Giulianii, who was the worst mayor in New York City history due to his ambivalence toward anyone who was a minority, ihas emerged as a leading critic of Mr DeBlasio, blaming the mayor, like Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch and Sergeants Benevolent Association President Edward Mullins, for igniting the cop-hating atmosphere that led Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, to ambush and kill Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn on December 20.
Mr. Giuliani, however, didn’t enjoy a much warmer relationship with one of Mr. Lynch’s predecessors, Lou Matarazzo. When the Republican refused to give the PBA the raises they sought, union leaders assailed Mr. Gulliani as a cheapskate. The Republican mayor was the brunt of a “zeros for heroes” campaign, and knew that when he ran for president a decade later, the PBAwouldn't dare lend their endorsement.
The PBA always has and continues to maintain a polarizing culture of racism and disrespect.