New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) asked for “political debate” and “protests” to be “put aside” on Monday following the fatal shooting of two police officers in Brooklyn over the weekend. They were shot at close range on Saturday by a Baltimore man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley who wrote posts on social media accounts vowing to kill police officers following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner earlier this year.
“We have to understand the attack on them was an attack on all of us,” de Blasio said. “It was an attack on our democracy, an attack on our values. It was an attack on every single New Yorker and we have to see it as such.”
De Blasio made his comments at a luncheon for supporters of the Police Athletic League after he visited with the families of both officers. He said their loved ones were “suffering an unspeakable pain.”
Both Brown and Garner were African American men who were killed while being taken into custody by police officers. Neither man was armed at the time. Brown’s death occurred in Ferguson, Missouri while Garner died in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Their deaths led to widespread protests, particularly after grand juries declined to indict officers involved in both incidents.
In his speech at the luncheon, de Blasio urged further protests to be put on hold until after the officers’ funerals.
“That could be for another day. Let’s accompany these families on their difficult journey,” said de Blasio. “Let’s see them through the funerals, then debate can begin again.”
Along with the national tensions, de Blasio has been focus of some recent debate due to his strained relationship with the NYPD.
The head of the city’s largest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, has made a series of comments implying the fatal attack on the officers on was linked to supportive comments the mayor made about the protests in the wake of Garner’s death. When de Blasio arrived for a news conference on Saturday at the hospital where they were pronounced dead, a group of officers turned their backs on him as he entered the building.
These recent events aren’t the only source of strife between City Hall and the NYPD. De Blasio made changing the police department a cornerstone of the campaign that propelled him to the mayor’s office last year. The mayor also was recently embroiled in tense contract negotiations with the police unions that headed to binding arbitration after the officers and the city were unable to reach a salary agreement.
In his remarks on the killing of the two officers Monday afternoon, de Blasio noted “the family of the NYPD is feeling this deeply.” He encouraged New Yorkers to attempt to connect with officers they see on the streets.
“Take a moment when you see a police officer to thank them, console them, because it is personal for them,” de Blasio said.
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