The rift between New York Mayor de Blasio and his city’s police department is more than an internal spat. It has the potential to divide and harm the city and citizens, not to mention crashing the Mayor’s already self-jeopardized political career early in his term. Both sides if this dispute committed hostile acts that the other considers grievously disrespectful. Neither combatant appears ready to apologize.
De Blasio crossed what many of his department’s officers consider an uncrossable line when he suggested, in the immediate wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict in the Eric Garner case, that his own bi-racial son was at risk of harm should he be apprehended by the NYPD. As I have written before, this was not, as the spinners would have it, just a case of a mayor being candid about genuine problem in community relations. This was a tacit endorsement of the “hands up” protests and their contention that Garner, Mike Brown and others were the victims of police racism, that police are killing, likely to kill, want to kill, black kids. It doesn’t matter that de Blasio may not have intended that implication: under the circumstances and in the context of events, this is what police officers interpreted his remarks to mean. He was siding against them. He was suggesting that the grand jury was wrong not to indict. He was suggesting not that some NYPD officers were racially biased, but that black children like his son “may not be [Translation: “are not“] safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”
The police have responded with multiple demonstrations of anger and contempt for their boss. Most recently, there were boos and jeers when De Blasio spoke at a police graduation ceremony this week. Over a hundred officers symbolically turned their backs when the mayor spoke at the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, who was assassinated by a man who suggested that he was seeking vengeance for the deaths of Garner and Brown. That had followed the theme of an airplane-towed banner over the city that read,“Our backs have turned to you,”which in turn was inspired by the spontaneous gesture by officers present when de Blasio visited the hospital where the bodies of Officer Ramos and his partner lay.
The New York Times, which has been guilty of bolstering the “hands up” lie by carelessly linking the deaths of Brown and Garner as well as Trayvon Martin, none of which can be fairly blamed on racism based on available evidence, has come down squarely against the police, writing in an editorial: Continue reading