New York City police officers were wrong to turn their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday as he spoke at the funeral for a slain officer, Police Commissioner William Bratton and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said.
“I certainly don’t support that action yesterday,” Bratton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “It was very inappropriate at that event.”
Bratton and de Blasio joined Vice President Joe Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in eulogizing Officer Rafael Ramos, who was ambushed and killed on Dec. 20 in Brooklyn along with his partner, Officer Wenjian Liu.
“It doesn’t matter if you like the mayor or don’t like the mayor; you have to respect the mayor’s position. I don’t support that,” Giuliani, who was mayor of the nation’s most populous city from 1994 to 2002, said on CBS.
The killing of Ramos and Liu, by a man who claimed on social media to be retaliating for police killings of unarmed black men, inflamed tensions between the police and de Blasio, who ran for office criticizing police policies and vowed to end “stop and frisk” tactics. The soured relationship was underscored by the silent protest at Ramos’s service by some officers who turned their backs to a video screen as de Blasio spoke.
The tensions go far beyond race relations in the city, Bratton said.
“They really do feel under attack, rank-and-file officers and much of American police leadership,” Bratton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. “They feel that they are under attack from the federal government at the highest levels.”
There have been more than 50 threats against New York City police officers since the killing of Ramos and Liu, Bratton said on CBS. Nine people have been arrested, he said, up from a count of seven as of Dec. 25.
Americans need to be cognizant of “the anger and the hatred and the violence directed against our police officers,” Bratton said. “I think we need to broaden the conversation to include the dangers being directed against them also.”
A Staten Island grand jury’s decision Dec. 3 not to indict an officer accused of killing 43-year-old Eric Garner with a chokehold touched off demonstrations and intensified a national conversation about the relationship between the police and the communities they protect. That decision came nine days after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old.
After the New York decision, de Blasio, who is white, spoke about how he and his wife, who is black, had conversations with their son, Dante, about being careful if he is stopped by a police officer.
Giuliani called on de Blasio to apologize to the New York City police department, saying the mayor “created an impression” with the police “that he was on the side of the protesters.”
Bratton said that de Blasio “cares very deeply about New York City police officers, cares very deeply about the divide in this city at this time, and is working very hard to heal that divide.”