De Blasio’s Puts New York Police Officers In Cross-Hairs — Now he reaps the whirlwind
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference about the shootings at Woodhull Medical Center in New York on Saturday. (John Minchillo/AP)
By Michael Goodwin
The New York Post
After I once criticized President Obama for appearing to abandon Israel by being rude to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, my mailbag quickly overflowed with anti-Semitic attacks. The writers proudly signed their names to the kind of vile slurs on Jews usually whispered in private.
The president bore some responsibility for that tide of sludge. Not that Obama was guilty of personal anti-Semitism, but his behavior was a whistle the anti-Semitic dogs heard loud and clear. Unintentionally, he gave them license to come out of hiding.
So it is with Mayor de Blasio and the cop-haters. There is no way he wanted to see NYPD officers murdered, and his distress is surely genuine. But he is accountable nonetheless.
“Once a bullet leaves a gun, it has no friends,” the late Sen. Pat Moynihan once said. That is the nature of power, too. Those who have it must take extra care to be precise in their words and actions, lest they unleash the dogs of hell.
The mayor failed that test miserably. He can run from the consequences, but he can’t hide. His mayoralty is sunk unless he comes to grips with the fact that he lit the fuse that led to Saturday’s explosion.
For two years, starting with his 2013 campaign, he painted a target on the NYPD. Many of us warned repeatedly that he was playing with fire, but he saw his election as a blank check.
With Al Sharpton protecting his radical flank, the once-amiable back-bencher from Brooklyn has grown pompous with power. He fancies himself the leader of a national movement, and is comfortable lecturing the public and even the Democratic Party about its shortcomings. He has a habit of silencing critics by declaring, “I am right.”
Again and again, he depicted the great and gallant NYPD as an occupying army of racist brutes and foolishly boasted that he had warned his biracial son that the police were a danger to him. Just Friday, he met with demonstrators despite the fact that five cops had been assaulted in the so-called peaceful protests, and despite a video in which hundreds if not thousands of protesters are seen demanding “dead cops.”
As John Lindsay and David Dinkins learned, you cannot govern New York if you are hostile to the police. But even those mayors never experienced the shunning dished out to de Blasio Saturday night at the hospital.
The instant when scores of officers turned their backs on him was spontaneous, but reflected the hostility he spent two years creating. He earned their wrath.
As it stands, the bonds between City Hall and the Thin Blue Line are not merely strained. They are severed.
That is a threat to the entire fabric of the city. If it is open season on cops, nobody in New York is safe. Gun-toting maniacs like the one who assassinated Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu will not be stopped by reason or appeasement.
They are evil, and they feel emboldened by the demonizing of cops. Give them an inch, they will take a mile. They won’t stop until they are stopped.
That is the lesson of the last 20 years. The crime wave that swept the nation was stopped in New York under the leadership of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.
They didn’t do it with midnight basketball or compassionate-sounding social programs. Nor are New Yorkers inherently less violent and more honest than the people of Chicago or Detroit or Baltimore.
Gotham became the safest big city in American only through smart, aggressive policing that was demanded by two mayors who knew the difference between good and evil. Their relentless approach to arresting criminals and preventing crime was not without risks or mistakes. But their approach worked beyond imagination and amounted to a man-made miracle.
The lesson they left was that, as mayor, you are either with the police, or you are against them. No matter what you say about respecting them or how many tears you shed when you try to comfort grieving families, the choice is binary.
That fact is nowhere to be found in the progressive playbook, which sees everything through race and class. But it is how the real world works.
Yes or no? De Blasio said no to the police, and now he reaps the whirlwind.
By Karen Tumulty
The Washington Post
Tensions between New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s police — which boiled over in the wake of the assassination-style slayings of two officers Saturday — have been simmering since the mayor’s 2013 campaign and represent a sharp turn from the close alliance between the city’s mayors and law enforcement over the past two decades.
Recriminations against de Blasio began within hours of the news that the officers had been shot at point-blank range as they sat in their patrol car near a housing project in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn — and that the gunman had been motivated to kill them as retribution for the black men whose deaths at the hands of police in New York City and Ferguson, Mo., have sparked protests around the country.
A video of the arrival of de Blasio and Police Commissioner William J. Bratton at the hospital where officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos had been taken showed dozens of police officers silently turning their backs.
Bill de Blasio prays at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with his wife Chirlane McCray, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Chief James O’Neill. Photo: Helayne Seidman
“There’s blood on many hands tonight,” Patrick Lynch, president of the largest police union, said late Saturday. “Those that incited violence on the street in the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it shouldn’t be tolerated. That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.”
Although New York is a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 6 to 1, de Blasio is its first Democratic mayor in 20 years, and his stewardship of the city is being watched nationally as a test of unabashedly liberal leadership. After his landslide victory, he declared: “Make no mistake. The people of this city have chosen a progressive path. And tonight we set forth on it together, as one city.”
As de Blasio nears the end of his first year governing a huge and diverse city, there is a striking racial divide in how his constituents feel about his performance. A Quinnipiac University poll released Dec. 18 found that about 47 percent of those surveyed approved of how he has handled his job. But only 34 percent of whites had a favorable view, compared with 70 percent of African Americans and 47 percent of Hispanics.
On the question of how the mayor is handling police relations with the community, 56 percent of those surveyed disapproved and 36 percent approved.
Relations between the mayor and uniformed police officers have become so strained that “he probably needs an intermediary to go between himself and the unions, maybe a religious leader,” former New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly said in an interview. “I don’t know how receptive the unions would be.”
Kelly added that in his experience, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association — the largest of several dozen law enforcement unions, representing uniformed officers — has been a good barometer of the sentiments of its 23,000 rank-and-file members.
There have been a number of flash points between de Blasio and police, including one earlier this month when the mayor spoke to George Stephanopoulos of ABC News about his fears for his biracial son.
“It’s different for a white child. That’s just the reality in this country,” de Blasio said. “And with Dante, very early on with my son, we said, ‘Look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do, don’t move suddenly, don’t reach for your cellphone,’ because we knew, sadly, there’s a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”
That echoed previous statements the mayor had made, going back to a campaign ad in which he invoked his Afro-wearing teenage son to explain his opposition to the New York Police Department’s controversial “stop and frisk” tactic, which entailed stopping hundreds of thousands of people a year for what was deemed suspicious activity. The vast majority of those targeted were nonwhite and innocent of any wrongdoing.
Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York, complained that such comments made police officers feel as though they had been “thrown under the bus.”
Members of the city’s police force, along with its firefighters, achieved iconic status for their performance as first responders in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. People wore hats and shirts emblazoned with “NYPD” not just in New York, but around the country.
In recent years, the attention on the department has focused more on the question of whether enforcement is applied fairly. De Blasio’s opposition to stop-and-frisk was a major emphasis when the former New York City public advocate ran for mayor, and a New York Times analysis in September found that the tactic “all but vanished” after he took office.
The department found itself in the middle of another controversy in July, when a group of officers descended upon Eric Garner, a Staten Island African American suspected of illegally selling loose cigarettes. Garner — an asthmatic father of six and grandfather of two — died after one of them, Officer Daniel Pantaleo, used a chokehold on him.
All of it was captured on amateur video, as were Garner’s pleas of, “I can’t breathe.” After a grand jury declined earlier this month to bring the officer to trial, protests erupted. Early on, they were seen as a peaceful, more productive contrast to those that ensued around the shooting of teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson.
Recently, however, the demonstrations have taken a different turn — and that has increased tensions between the mayor and the department. After two police lieutenants were attacked by protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge, de Blasio described them as having been “allegedly assaulted” — terminology that rankled police.
The police union has posted a form on its Web site where officers can request that de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito “refrain from attending my funeral services in the event that I am killed in the line of duty.”
Minor incidents also have fueled the sense of grievance against the mayor among police. When he was late for a November memorial service for plane crash victims, for example, he blamed weather and a police ferry. De Blasio later acknowledged he “had a very rough night, woke up sluggish and I should have gotten myself moving quicker.”
One longtime associate of de Blasio, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the moment, said that the standoff with city police “is a very potentially dangerous situation for the mayor politically.”
But the de Blasio ally predicted that the mayor is “going to weather it through. He will be evenhanded. He’s not anti-cop. [But] he is not going to be buffaloed.”
Karen Tumulty is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where she received the 2013 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.
Mayor Bill de Blasio with James P. O’Neill and William J. Bratton at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times
A Widening Rift Between de Blasio and the New York City Police Is Savagely Ripped Open
The New York Times
Mayor Bill de Blasio sat in the front pew at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday, head bowed at times, with his wife on his left and the police commissioner on his right.
The crowd had come, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said, to mourn the two officers killed in an ambush in Brooklyn on Saturday. It had come to pray for their families and their “brothers and sisters in uniform.”
He went on.
“We pray for our leaders as well,” the cardinal said, looking toward the mayor’s row. “You’ve done what so many New Yorkers do in times of trial. You’ve come to St. Patrick’s.”
At the helm of a grieving New York, still raw from weeks of protests amid a national reckoning over law enforcement and race, Mr. de Blasio faces his biggest test yet.
The mayor, who does not attend church regularly, did not speak publicly on Sunday. His administration said he hoped to convey, in subdued terms, the need for unity in the city.
Read the rest: