NEW YORK (PIX11) — As the city’s chief executive, Mayor Bill de Blasio oversees all New York City agencies, including the police department. However, the mayor and the rank and file of the police are currently very publicly at odds over his handling of attacks on officers during protests over deaths of people of color in police custody.
On Monday, the mayor did not seem to help himself in the situation, even as he attempted to improve it. Some other city and state leaders, however, called for specific measures from de Blasio’s critics in the name of improving life and security in the city in general.
The situation reached its greatest intensity at the the end of a weekend that featured noteworthy anti-police acts, including an NYPD Traffic Division cruiser on a protest route that was surrounded by protesters, who smashed one of its side windows and thew a full trash can onto its rear window.
Another group of protesters were recorded on cellphone video yelling, “What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want ’em? Now!”
Also, two NYPD lieutenants ended up in the hospital — one with a broken nose — after they said they were beaten and kicked by protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge.
All three of those incidents were part of Saturday’s demonstrations in New York by at least 25,000 people, and they were also part of the reason Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday was re-stating comments he’d made over the weekend.
“Events are alleged until we know all the facts,” the mayor said at a late morning news conference, “but what we believe we know is individuals attacked our police officers in an entirely unacceptable and inappropriate way, and that won’t be tolerated.”
De Blasio was still not fully committing to saying that cops were attacked during weekend protests, even while trying to show support for officers in the wake of the Sergeants Benevolent Association president calling the mayor a “nincompoop” for initially saying the Brooklyn Bridge attack on cops was alleged instead of actual.
It followed a move last Friday by Pat Lynch, president of the biggest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, sending its members drafts of letters they could send out demanding that the mayor not be allowed to attend their funerals.
All of that prompted the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz and Bronx State Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda on Monday to demand that Lynch apologize to Mayor de Blasio. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams made the same demand on Friday.
As for the mayor himself, his reaction Monday morning attempted to be dismissive of his detractors. “Responding to self-interested critics with histrionic voices doesn’t get you very far. That’s all I have to say.”
That actually was a response. Also, one of those histrionic voices was the president of the detectives union, Michael Palladino of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, who had also criticized de Blasio for saying that the two lieutenants in the Brooklyn Bridge protest had “allegedly” been attacked.
On Monday, Palladino spoke further, in an interview with PIX11 News. “Supporting the police at this time is critical,” he said. “It’s a very critical time, fragile, I would say. It’s time to start leading and governing and let’s leave the campaigning behind.”
Late Monday afternoon, PBA President Pat Lynch also rejoined the fray, with a statement that said in part, “It is very clear to me that the Mayor has no idea of just how angry New York City police officers are at him for his lack of support and for laying decades of society’s problems undeservedly at their feet.”
The dispute continues. For how long is uncertain, although Mayor de Blasio said on Monday that he has no intention of taking any steps to see the traffic- and commerce-stopping protests come to an end.
“The people determine whether its time for them to speak out,” de Blasio said. “Our job is to manage [protest] and respect it appropriately.”