The Fate of A Gesture: NYPD Turn their Backs on de Blasio at Funeral

December 27, 2014

Like millions of people who were horrified at the murder of NYPD officers Wenjin Liu and Rafael Ramos last Saturday, I watched and read of the funeral of the latter which took place this afternoon in Queens. Among what I read was that members of the NYPD, in the hundreds and maybe more, turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Balsio as he eulogized Ramos.

In an event built on symbolic gestures – the posthumous promotion of Ramos to detective, the presence of both the Governor of New York and the Vice President of the United States, a funeral that, with all respect to the police, was more fitting for a head of state than a murdered cop — in all of this, no symbolic gesture will have greater resonance for the people of New York than the sight of hundreds of cops outside of the church turning their backs on the image of Mayor Bill De Blaiso. As both a New Yorker and a person with three family members who are or were NYPD, I felt a sense of both shame and disgust when I read this. And also a chill.

The gesture was many things: shocking, arrogant and petulant, to be sure, but it was above all, dangerous. And the danger is not merely to the political future of Bill de Blasio. “When an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city, “ said Joe Biden. Like the bullets fired at the cops, the gesture is equally targeted at all of us.

It is almost impossible to imagine that the grossly disrespectful act was done without at least the tacit approval of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. If this proves to be the case, de Blasio should fire Bratton as soon as possible and replace him with a person who respects the political process and is in possession of at least some sense of decorum and decency. This, after all, was a funeral and not the place for politicking. If Bratton did not give his okay, then he needs to rein his people in immediately and remind them that they work for the people of the city of New York.

Like every one else, police have every right to express their dislike or even disgust at Bill de Blasio. Unlike everyone else, they have sworn to protect and serve the people and they have an obligation to respect the chain of command which, in this case, ends with Bill de Blasio.
Question: Can a police force that turns its back on the mayor of a city be trusted to protect the citizens of that city? Make no mistake about what happened today. This was not merely a gesture meant to help in the political destruction of Bill de Blasio. It was also meant to show every New Yorker that the NYPD feels immune to criticism and, to some extent, is its own law.

The rhetoric of PBA President Patrick Lynch – that de Blasio and others have had blood on their hands for the horrific murder of the two cops by a psychotic from Baltimore — has been nothing short of hysterical and should be treated as such by both the cops he ostensibly represents and the public those cops ostensibly serve. But, as hysteria is easier to digest than thought, this is not, by and by, what has happened, and today’s gesture was meant to drive the hysteria home in the most emotionally charged way possible.

With the exception of his foolish legitimization of the execrable
Al Sharpton, ( admittedly an enormous error) I find nothing objectionable and much that is commendable in de Blasio’s handling of the Eric Garner affair. There is a reason that, after the non–indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, New York did not descend into the chaos and brutality of Ferguson and it’s militarized police.
Like him or not, that reason is Bill de Blasio.
Today, the NYPD chose to politicize murder and to do so at what is meant to be a sacred ritual, perhaps the most sacred of rituals. I see no way in which anything good can come of what happened today, not for cops and not for New Yorkers. I can easily see, however, how another Giuliani ( or worse than a Giuliani ) may rise from the feelings that propelled the cops gesture.
Rest assured, reactionaries across the land are plotting away.

4 Responses to “The Fate of A Gesture: NYPD Turn their Backs on de Blasio at Funeral”

  1. Michael Fiorillo Says:

    The political response to the murder of the two police officers has been nothing less than ghoulish, using their horrific deaths to validate police state policies and criminalize dissent.

    The murders of officers Ramos and Liu were the result of a sick individual who could easily get hold of a handgun. On the other hand, police militarization and brazen violence, as always directed most heavily against Black males, is a systemic issue stemming from the ongoing attacks against working people and the intensifying wealth extraction of the 1%. Police departments are the point of the spear for maintaining that oppressive system.

    When a government refuses to finance its operations via a just and progressive tax system, and instead does so via fines and fees – thus criminalizing large segments of the populace – as is the case in Ferguson, Mo. and elsewhere, then we have entered a world where the State is a repressive entity enabling and defending parasitic rentiers – after all, what can possibly be more parasitic than a for-profit health insurance industry? – with the police given total immunity to enforce a vicious system based on looting and wealth extraction.

    While I don’t wish to see violence directed ay anyone, I might begin to have a little more respect for the NYPD when it initiates a “broken windows” policy for rampant criminality on Wall Street, and starts conducting stop-and-frisk policing in front of Chase Bank’s headquarters.

    In the meantime, I will do everything I can to have as little as possible to do with those who “Protect and Serve” he Overclass.

  2. Harris L. Says:

    Three quick thoughts:

    First, I doubt that Bratton in any manner approved, tacitly or otherwise, an extraordinary breach in the chain of command–the turning of backs was a statement about him as much as it was the mayor and they both need to get control of the police force. He got fired once by letting too much daylight get between him and Giuliani and though he may regret having taken the job a second time I don’t think he wants to lose it again.

    Second, the Mayor made an egregious, and perhaps, irretrievable, mistake when he allowed Sharpton to sit at one side and Bratton at the other side of him during the infamous news conference last summer. That communicated to the PD that their nemesis had the same respect and power with the mayor that their commander did. I don’t know that de Blasio can ever recover from that blunder. That image will never be removed from the minds of many officers and most moderate and conservative voters in the City. Because the mayor’s core support is among black voters he may be unable to do the one thing that can save him–cut himself free from Al Sharpton.

    Finally, the PD and many “good citizens” of the City desperately want de Blasio to be a one-term mayor and nothing being done now by Andrew Cuomo, Eva Moskowitz, the oligarchs of our fine city or members of our municipal army will do anything other than make it possible for Ray Kelly or Ms. Eva to take control again of City Hall in 2017. Remember, de Blasio won 75% of 20% of the voters who could be bothered to vote last year–that means that he got 15% of the registered vote in 2013–hardly a mandate and hardly a coalition durable enough to keep him in power against a credible candidate three years from now.

    • patrickwalsh Says:

      Excellent comments, Harris, with which I must for the most past agree, even if I would prefer not to. What a mess. What a unholy mess.

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