New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton strongly criticised the NYPD officers who turned their back to de Blasio at the funerals for slain detectives.
“I can’t understand why anyone would do such a thing in a context like that. I think it just defies a lot of what we feel is the right and decent thing to do when you’re dealing with a family in pain,” de Blasio said Monday at a press conference touting the city’s relatively low crime rate.
Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were recently assassinated in an apparent act of “revenge” for the deaths of unarmed African-American men during police confrontations in Staten Island, New York, and Ferguson, Missouri.
After the execution of Liu and Ramos, police unions started strongly criticising de Blasio, who they said has some responsibility for the killing. Among other things, the unions accused de Blasio of sympathizing with the protests that roiled the city in December, when a grand jury decided not to indict the white police officer involved in the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island.
In order to show their discontent, officers turned their backs as de Blasio eulogized Liu on Sunday and Ramos the week before. But de Blasio said he couldn’t “understand why anyone would do such a thing in a context like that.”
“Those individuals who took certain actions this last week — the last two weeks, really — they were disrespectful to the families involved. That’s the bottom line. They were disrespectful to the families that had lost a loved one,” he said. “I think it just defies a lot of what we feel is the right and decent thing to do when you’re dealing with a family in pain. I also think they were disrespectful to the people of this city, who in fact honour the work of the NYPD.”
The officers who turned their backs on de Blasio on Sunday were defying Bratton, who issued a memo asking police to not repeat the protest from Ramos’ funeral. At de Blasio’s Monday press conference, Bratton spoke out even more strongly than de Blasio against the back-turning cops at Liu’s funeral.
“What was the need, in the middle of that ceremony, to engage in a political action? I don’t get it. And I’m very disappointed — very disappointed — in those who did not respond to my request,” Bratton said. “I think we need to focus much more on the vast majority who what was expected, rather than the few who embarrassed themselves.”
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