In an attempt to mend fences with New York City police, Mayor Bill de Blasio Tuesday laid flowers at a memorial to the two police officers murdered last weekend during an appearance on Tuesday. Accompanied by his wife, de Blasio placed the flowers at a memorial near the murder scene. The Mayor attempted to console residents of the area, bowed his head, and asked for a moment of silence.
During his visit to the memorial, de Blasio said, “There’s a lot of pain right now. We have to work our way through that pain. We have to keep working to bring police and community closer together. We have to work for that more perfect union. We have to put the divisions of the past behind us.”
Two uniformed NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were viciously murdered Saturday in their marked police car in Brooklyn by Ismaaiyl Brinsley with the apparent intent of avenging Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Officers Liu and Ramos were shot in the head at point-blank range by Brinsley who killed himself moments later as police pursued him. Brinsley had a criminal record and was suspected of shooting his Philadelphia girlfriend earlier in the day. Philadelphia police had sent a warning to NYPD that Brinsley was possibly on his way to New York, but the warning arrived too late.
Relations between de Blasio and the police have been rocky since he took office but has become extremely strained since the shootings. Many in the police ranks believe that the support the Mayor has shown for protests that have taken place in the wake of the grand jury findings in the deaths of both Michael Brown and Eric Garner has been in part responsible for the shootings. On Saturday after the murders, New York City Police Union President Pat Lynch said, “There’s blood on many hands tonight…” Of Mayor de Blasio, he continued, “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the Mayor.”
On Saturday night, as de Blasio walked past police officers on the way to console the police officers’ grieving families in the hospital in New York, the police officers turned their backs.
Mayor de Blasio and his wife did not respond to requests for comment as they left the memorial. Most other politicians have been hesitant to comment about the situation as well. One exception was former New York Governor George Pataki, who said, according to CNN, “He should meet with the police leaders and he should apologize. Apologize for not having their back when this crisis began and apologize for having helped create this climate where the best police department… in America is demonized as being an occupying force…”
Mayor de Blasio likely has tough days ahead in New York in patching relations with City Police Officers, whom de Blasio has already criticized on several occasions and have been without a contract for four years, while balancing the interests of supporters who helped elect him based on his police reform platform.