NEW YORK (PIX11) --Throughout the protests of recent weeks over deaths of civilians in police custody, as well as the execution style deaths of two NYPD officers last weekend, Mayor Bill de Blasio has not made a great show of emotion.
That changed Monday when he was asked at a news conference about slogans that thousands of protesters have used against cops. The mayor angrily responded that most protesters are peaceful, an that it's the fault of news media that demonstrators who may be harmful tend to grab headlines.
"You're part of this, too," the mayor said heatedly to reporters at a news conference at One Police Plaza, NYPD headquarters late Monday afternoon.
"What you managed to do is pull up the few -- who do not represent the majority -- who say inappropriate things, who shouldn't be saying those things, and some who actually physically attack police offices," de Blasio said.
He said that of the 25,000 people who attended the largest New York protest so far in the days after a grand jury decided not to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner, "only a few" demonstrators had engaged in unlawful behavior. The mayor's reaction was a response to a question pointing out that over and over, anti-cop slogans such as "NYPD KKK" are heard chanted by many demonstrators at protests.
The mayor denied that, and said that the utterance of such slogans was disproportionately reported by various news media.
His news conference, with nearly four dozen television and still photo cameras assigned to it, may have been the most widely attended of the mayor's tenure so far. It was called in response to a variety of challenges de Blasio has faced in the wake of the Garner decision on December 3rd.
Since then, there have been dozens of mostly peaceful protests. Along with them, though, have been multiple cases of protesters fighting with and injuring police officers. And, of course, there was also the fatal shooting, at point blank range, of Officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjien Liu, 32, last Saturday. Gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 30, cited decisions to not indict officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, for his murderous actions.
Outside of the Ramos Family's home on Sunday there was a candlelight vigil, at which the organizer, John Rodriguez, president of the 75th Precinct Community Council, told PIX11 News, "The mayor's not here. Shame on him."
It was because of that sort of call from the families and supporters of Officers Ramos and Liu that on Monday Mayor De Blasio was at the officers' homes, with Police Commissioner Bratton by his side.
Later in the day, in a speech at a Police Athletic League luncheon, the mayor made clear that he knows he faces serious challenges.
"Regardless of people's viewpoints" he said, "we have to recognize it's a time to step back and just focus on [the officers'] families. It's a time for everyone to put aside political debates... to put aside protests."
He said that in part in response to recent developments such as a petition on the politically liberal website MoveOn.org calling for de Blasio's resignation. So many people -- 62,000 and counting -- have signed it that its target number of signatures has been surpassed.
By contrast, a petition calling for the resignation of Pat Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the city's largest police union, and a very vocal critic of the mayor, had just 122 signatures at last count.
The mayor also faces many messages on web forums for law enforcement officers calling on retired cops to do him what Eric Garner decision protesters have been doing for weeks now -- intentionally blocking traffic as part of their demonstrations. But an entry in one web forum calls for retired cops to "block this [expletive] Mayor from attending these funerals." It goes on, "We can assemble en masse, and start a peaceful protest when his motorcade approaches."
But one close relative of Officer Ramos opposed that in a statement on Sunday night. "We're not disrespectful," said Lonnie Gonzales, Ofcr. Ramos's first cousin. "We're not going to throw him out and say don't be here. If he wants to come and show support, by all means."
At his luncheon speech on Monday, Mayor de Blasio responded head on to plans of doing things like keeping him away from the deceased officers' funerals.
"Any organization planning politics right now," he said, "that can be for another day."