One week ago, tragedy struck New York City when two NYPD officers were brutally murdered by a mentally unstable man while sitting in their squad car. On December 21st, police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were struck down by Ismaaiyl Brinsley who claimed he was taking revenge for the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of law enforcement during the summer.
While focus should be placed on the death of the officers, and failure to bring Garner justice when the city failed to indict the officer involved, and now with the deaths of the officers the attention is being lost to a rising tension between the city’s men in blue and Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio himself.
Since the deaths of the officers, Mayor de Blasio has become the sole target by scores of police officers including some within the department who represent them. The tension was first exhibited during a press conference last Saturday when Mayor de Blasio addressed reporters regarding the deaths of Officer Liu & Ramos. At the conference the officers present chose to walk away from the mayor. A similar scene witnessed during last Saturday’s funeral service for the officers when police officers turned their backs to the mayor.
In-addition to the public display of disrespect and anger against the mayor, a group of retired officers came together and purchased a banner in order to publicly display their disapproval for the mayor. The banner was flown over the Hudson River last Friday which read: De Blasio, our backs have turned to you..
While there is a growing opposition to the mayor, he does have some support among those in blue.
Addressing local officers who have publicly denounced Mayor de Blasio, Anthony Miranda, the executive chairman of National Latino Association, asked officers to “rise above the rhetoric and be more professional” rather than fuel the unnecessary tension. Especially showing disrespect during memorials for fallen officers.
“There is a time and place for everything,” added Miranda, “At a funeral, or a hospital during the death of an officer, that’s not the time or place for that thing.”
One of the lead agitators against the mayor is Patrick Lynch, the President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. Since the murders of Liu & Ramos, Lynch has led a public outcry against the mayor who he claims has the officers’ blood upon his hands.
The initial start for the NYPD not truly standing behind Mayor de Blasio was during his campaign. While running for mayor, Mayor de Blasio mentioned the issue of racial profiling within the NYPD when he talked about advising his bi-racial on how to deal with officers if he finds himself in a situation where he has to deal with them. What may seem offensive isn’t considering the rising incidents of young people of color being stop-and-frisk by law enforcement.
Mayor de Blasio may have seemed as though he was subtly attacking the NYPD, but was he? As a father to a young black male he was only speaking the truth and ensuring his son’s safety. So should he be condemned if he—a man in a position of power—sees something is wrong and wants it to be seen by all so that it may be changed?
Not every New York City Police Department Officer is a villain. It is saddening how police officers are grouped together because there are a few bad seeds ruining the batch as a whole. The NYPD has this reputation of having a “family structure” where officers will protect other officers who in some way or form are connected to committed crime or being dirty, it is this assumption that all cops will continue to be viewed as “the bad guys”.
Officers have the right to protest, just as much as we have the right to protest against their organization if we feel threatened by them. However, with the likes of Lynch seemingly speaking on the “behalf” of members of the NYPD it is more damaging than good. The reason behind the death of the officers a week ago, Lynch blamed the protests and the continued acceptance of them suggesting that people of the city should not engage in the civil right to protest.
This comment along with the continued suggestions made by Lynch that implies that officers have been wronged by the Mayor for the current tension they face by the people of NYC isn’t just ignorant but truly volatile. Passing the blame doesn’t solve issues, but allows it to grow and gets us nowhere.
There is no victor between Mayor de Blasio or the NYPD. However, there is one guaranteed loser if this current issue plaguing our city with institutional racism is not met: we—the people of New York City—could lose if this continued tense climate exists among the Mayor’s office, the NYPD, and the city itself if some form of ground is not met and agreed upon.