“People are really concerned for the future of this city…”
– Partner Brad Gerstman speaking to the Daily News
From New York Daily News:
Mayor de Blasio called Monday for a moratorium on demonstrations and political bombast until the two slain officers who were executed by a lunatic over the weekend are laid to rest.
“I think it’s a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time,” Hizzoner said at a Police Athletic League luncheon.
“I think it’s important that, regardless of people’s viewpoints, that everyone recognizes a time to step back and just focus on these families.”
But groups that have been leading street rallies in recent months said they have no plans to back down.
“This is not a time for political grandstanding and punditry,” the protesters said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we continue to see elected officials and police leadership twist this tragedy into an opportunity for them to silence the cries for justice from families who have lost their loved ones to police violence.”
Hours before making his first public comments since announcing the deaths of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn on Saturday, the mayor visited their grieving relatives. He was joined by First Lady Chirlane McCray and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
De Blasio later spoke of the “unspeakable pain” of the slain cops’ loved ones and their worries about what lies ahead.
“That should be our only concern: How do we support them?” he said. “Let’s see them through the funerals.”
A service for Ramos will be held Saturday morning after a viewing Friday. Arrangements for Liu’s funeral have not been announced.
Just 10 days ago, the police union — enraged at de Blasio’s sympathy with the protesters — asked members to disinvite the mayor from any of their funerals if they’re killed on duty. Ramos’ family has said the mayor is welcome to attend his rites.
Bratton said that all police unions — whose leaders blamed the mayor for the murders, with some saying he has “blood on his hands” — have agreed to “stand down” the heated rhetoric until the cops are buried.
“I think it’s appropriate that the focus has to be on our murdered officers and their families to ensure that we honor them and honor them in the way the NYPD has traditionally done for its fallen heroes,” the commissioner said.
Union reps, who have accused de Blasio of not supporting the police, did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a mayoral ally whose organization was also at the front of the movement against aggressive police tactics, said protest groups won’t heed de Blasio’s call. “This lone gunman, who was certainly antithetical to everything we stand for, was not a member of the movement and therefore should not be able to alter the movement or alter policing,” Sharpton told the Daily News.
“The regard for good police should not change, and the need for those bad police to be held accountable should not change. Those two things are nonnegotiable.”
Sharpton would not say when protests would resume, but said they must be dignified and respectful.
Politicians who had taken part in rallies, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), had called earlier for a temporary halt to protests.
Ramos and Liu were shot in the head execution-style outside the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant by cop-hating maniac Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who then blew his brains out in a nearby subway station.
As he made his way from Maryland to the city, the killer invoked in online rantings the names of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. — unarmed black men whose deaths during encounters with cops sparked a national outcry.
Brinsley’s phone contained a video of a demonstration in Union Square, which he watched as “a spectator,” police said.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, de Blasio declined to address the growing rift between cops and City Hall, but said, “We have to keep working for harmony between police and community. I believe we’ll transcend this. I believe we’ll overcome this.”
Bratton pointed out that unions have been clashing with mayors for decades.
During his speech at the PAL luncheon, where generally pro-cop powerbrokers dined at $1,500-a-plate tables, the mayor was received with polite applause amid a tense and quiet atmosphere.
“People are really concerned for the future of this city,” said Brad Gerstman, a lawyer who frequently attends the lunches.
But a leading police reform group rejected the call for a moratorium on protests.
“We strongly support the right of all New Yorkers to continue to express not only their grief, but also their positive vision for the future through nonviolent, direct action, vigils, educational forums and other activities,” said Joo-Hyun Kang, head of Communities United for Police Reform.
“It is wrong to connect the isolated act of one man who killed NYPD officers to a nonviolent mass movement. Silencing the countless voices of New Yorkers who are seeking justice, dignity and respect for all is a mistake.”
The group plans to continue to hold and plan actions related to police reform and accountability, including a vigil this week organized by the mother of Anthony Baez to commemorate the 20 years since her son’s chokehold death in the Bronx at the hands of Police Officer Francis Livoti, a source familiar with the group said.
A source said de Blasio appeared to be doing “damage control” during his remarks Monday.
“Part damage control, part guilt,” the source said.
“I guess only time will tell. I just hope there’s no additional violence.”
The mayor’s day started at Ramos’ home in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, where he made a 30-minute house call. He shook hands with two uniformed officers standing at a post outside and told them, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
He then proceeded to visit Liu’s parents and wife, who married the seven-year vet just three months ago.
Gov. Cuomo said he had spoken with police union leaders, Sharpton and local politicians and had called for tamping down the rhetoric.
“I understand the feelings. But now is a time for unity and a time for peace and a time for calm,” he said. “I don’t think the back-and-forth has been productive.”
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