Two days after hundreds of NYPD police officers turned their backs on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio as he spoke at Officer Rafael Ramos’ funeral, the mayor was heckled and booed at the NYPD graduation ceremony in New York Monday. The police force has thrown a lot of blame the mayor’s way over the deaths of two NYPD police officers. Police union head Pat Lynch went so far as to say the mayor has blood on his hands after a deranged murderer assassinated Wenjian Liu and Ramos before turning the gun on himself December 20th.
Apparently, Lynch and many members of the NYPD feel de Blasio’s statements in the wake of the Staten Island grand jury decision surrounding the death of Eric Garner were disrespectful to police. After NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was not indicted for killing Garner, the mayor discussed the ruling and general police conduct within the context of his family. Mayor de Blasio is married to a black woman and has biracial children, He explained that in the past he’s spoken to his son about the way he needs to conduct himself around police, acknowledging police tend to treat young black men differently than whites.
The same night of Lynch’s inflammatory comments, officers gathered at the hospital where Liu and Ramos were treated. When de Blasio passed by them, they all turned their back to him to show they blamed him for the two officers’ deaths. Two days later, de Blasio asked protesters to cease demonstrations against police brutality until after the two men were laid to rest. Despite the mayor’s calls for no protests and a non-politicization of the funerals, hundreds of officers still made a display of turning their backs on the mayor as he spoke. Even NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton criticized the cops who took part in the protest, especially considering the mayor had been asked to speak at the funeral by Ramos’ family.
Despite Bratton’s criticism and the general feeling that the NYPD officers acted inappropriately over the weekend, new recruits and officers decided to once again treat the mayor with a certain level of disrespect. When he was introduced at the graduation ceremony, a healthy dose of boos could be heard in the arena. During his speech, de Blasio told those in attendance, “You didn’t create these problems, but you can help our city to overcome them. You can be part of the solution.” Someone in the crowd yelled out, “No! You did!”
Below is video of de Blasio’s speech at the ceremony, courtesy of PIX11:
While it is understandable that law enforcement in this country feels a bit over-criticized these past few months, considering the number of high-profile killings that have taken up the news cycle and led to nationwide protests. However, at the same time, they also have to realize that criticism and examination will only lead to a better way of policing and eventually build more trust in the communities they are sworn to protect and serve. Police officers cannot, and should not, expect unequivocal support for all of their actions and words. They need to accept that they are public servants and, as such, they are open to a wide range evaluations, and yes, criticism.