Mayor de Blasio Calls for Suspension of Protests in New York – New York Times

Police officers gathered on Monday by a memorial near the site where Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally shot.
By MARC SANTORA
December 22, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for protesters to suspend demonstrations in the aftermath of the killing of two New York City police officers, who were gunned down on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn as they sat in their patrol car.

“Put aside protests,” Mr. de Blasio said during a speech Monday afternoon. “That can be for another day.”

The mayor’s call came a few hours after the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said that the killing of the officers was a “direct spinoff of this issue” of the protests that have roiled the nation in recent weeks.

The protests were born of frustration that blacks are not treated fairly in the criminal justice system but have often focused broadly on police officers.

A police shield with a mourning band was placed near the site of the memorial.

For weeks since a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, protesters have taken to the streets to call for reforms.

While mostly peaceful, those protests have also featured vitriolic and personal attacks that condemn those who wear a badge as racists and worse.

When Ismaaiyl Brinsley boarded a bus to New York on Saturday morning, he had made his intentions clear for the world to see on social media — he wanted to kill police officers.

Mr. Bratton said that while investigators were still trying to learn more about Mr. Brinsley’s background, they have concluded that the protests served as an inspiration for the disturbed young man.

Commissioner William J. Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“It is quite apparent, quite obvious, that the targeting of these two police officers was a direct spinoff of this issue of these demonstrations,” Mr. Bratton said during an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.

Mr. Brinsley shot and killed Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, on Saturday afternoon in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, as the two sat in their patrol car.

Mr. Blasio on Monday morning visited the families of both slain officers, before speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Police Athletic League, a youth organization. It was there that he called for the demonstrations to be suspended.

Mr. de Blasio called the shooting of the officers an assault “on our values” and an “attack on every single New Yorker.”

A news conference at Police Headquarters with Mr. Bratton was scheduled for later Monday afternoon.

[Video: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at Police Athletic League Luncheon Watch on YouTube.]

Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at Police Athletic League Luncheon
Video by NYC Mayor’s Office

Mr. Brinsley had a long criminal record, having been arrested at least 19 times, and he shot his former girlfriend earlier on Saturday. Mr. Bratton said the police were still trying to determine his last residence, where they hope to find more evidence that will help them better understand his motivations.

But even as the investigation continues, Mayor Bill de Blasio has been criticized by some in the Police Department for encouraging the protesters by not speaking out more vehemently against some of their more heated rhetoric.

They have seized on comments he made about how he warned his son of the dangers he might face as a young black man when dealing with the police. When protesters attacked police officers during a protest march in Brooklyn, critics pounced on his use of the word “allegedly” to describe the assault, much of which was captured in videos.

More broadly, Mr. de Blasio has been working since he took office to heal the wounds from an often bitter campaign during which he focused much of his attention on the need to reform the Police Department. While the mayor’s aides have said that he was campaigning against a tactic, that was not the only message many in the department heard.

On Sunday, Raymond W. Kelly, who was the police commissioner during the Bloomberg administration, once again said that in his view — and in the view of many officers — Mr. de Blasio ran on an “antipolice” platform.

That long-simmering ill will came to a full boil in the hours after the shooting on Saturday. In a stunning display of discontent, dozens of officers turned their back on the mayor as he walked through the hallway of the hospital where the officers had been rushed after the shooting.

Three unions representing uniformed police officers, sergeants and detectives are refraining from speaking publicly until after the funerals of two slain officers are completed, two union officials said.

The decision came after calls from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to the heads of each union, according to one of the union officials.

Even before the timing of the funerals had yet to be set, Mr. Cuomo called in an effort to calm frayed nerves after Patrick J. Lynch of the patrolmen’s union and Edward D. Mullins of the sergeants’ union laid the blame for the officers’ deaths at the feet of Mr. de Blasio.

On Sunday, Mr. de Blasio attended a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but otherwise remained out of public view.

In his interview on Monday, Mr. Bratton defended the mayor, saying it was unfair to blame him for any increased level of threat being faced by the police.

But he acknowledged that there are those in the department who are deeply upset with Mr. de Blasio.

When asked if the mayor had lost the trust of the police, Mr. Bratton said, “I think he has lost it with some officers.”

But he did not think Mr. de Blasio owed the department an apology.

“I don’t know that an apology is necessary,” he said. “One of the things, a concern at the moment, is this issue is really starting to go down partisan lines, Republican/Democrat. This is something that should be bringing us all together, not taking us apart.”

J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

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