Pleas from the relatives of senselessly killed Eric Garner, from public officials at all levels and from the clergy, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, have all failed to satisfactorily lower the temperature that shot up, not just in this city but elsewhere across the nation, following that horrendous Staten Island grand jury decision in the Garner case. The equally senseless murder of Officers Ramos and Liu of the NYPD by a maniacal loser only served to exacerbate those tensions. That some chose to ignore the requests of Mayor Bill de Blasio and others for a pause in protests until after the two cops’ funerals was a measure of the out-of-control rage gripping the city. Way out of control as well is a PBA that would countenance (perhaps more correctly instigate or incite) the insufferable demonstration of open disrespect toward the mayor that the PBA thinks it’s cool for its members to engage in.
On the matter of respect, a basic rule of thumb is that it is earned only when it is given. The tactic of having cops turn their backs to the mayor whenever he’s in their presence is such coarse, primitive behavior, it is difficult to figure whether the thinking of the PBA hierarchy is predicated on (a) that earning public support for this ongoing crudeness is of no consequence or (b) that the New York citizenry would somehow find merit in the cops’ action. It would be a truly sad day if, within the PBA, there’s no significance attached to the concept of mutual respect between New Yorkers and the NYPD. And if the residents of New York are of a collective mind to condone cops’ disrespect of the city’s mayor as orchestrated by the PBA, it would be just as sad a commentary on the body politic here.
We need underscore what egregious sins, as far as we can tell, Mayor de Blasio has committed to warrant such contempt from the police rank and file. In his successful mayoral campaign last year, he made a point of emphasizing that the stop and frisk initiative needed to be reformed. As mayor, he has left no doubt that the city appreciates the job and the sacrifice made by the overwhelming majority of cops, but that those few who bring dishonor to the badge do not belong in the police service. In the wake of the Staten Island outrage he said the city had no objection to peaceful protest by citizens. And on the issue of the treatment to which young men of color are oftentimes subjected by the police, he mentioned having spoken to his teenage bi-racial son about what he possibly could encounter when and if he is stopped. Unless somewhere, sometime, de Blasio has scathingly slammed the entire NYPD as a good-for-nothing bunch or something similar, this is the sum total of his “transgressions” for which the truculent PBA head and his minions now see fit to plumb the depths of ugly in the war they’ve declared against City Hall.
On its face, there is nothing Mayor de Blasio has said to or about the NYPD that wasn’t perfectly in order to say. Which suggests that any mere hint of criticism of wrongdoing on the law enforcement side is evidently seen as a step too far: no mention should be made that there are indeed rogue cops among the more than 30,000 in the department; demonstrating against that miscarriage of justice on Staten Island should not be condoned; that countless young men of color have experienced a rough time when stopped by the police should be dismissed as non-events. By contrast, what passes the mayoral bar as set by the PBA is unsealing the juvenile record of a black man shot and killed by police, as Rudolph Giuliani did. Or joining cops in a bordering-on-disorderly-conduct march across the Brooklyn Bridge, as Giuliani also did when angling for the job of mayor.
The media (with the exception, of course, of Fox News and its ilk) will hopefully come to learn, before too long, that the “America’s mayor” gravy train ride they’ve continued to accord the former mayor should long since have been stamped “invalid.” To say nothing of the man’s racist traits, which are beyond concealing.
It’s a pretty safe bet that a hefty majority of New Yorkers have no yen for this city, more than its renowned melting pot image, being also reputed for a searing racial divisiveness, defiant of all the well-meaning spirits in search of healing. The best of us aren’t to be found among those who use a march or demonstration to loot and plunder. We aren’t to be found among those who can’t respect the families of two innocent cops slain by temporarily halting demonstrations. We aren’t to be found in a PBA high command cheering on an ill-founded lack of civility toward a mayor. And the best of us must repudiate all of this and find a way to prevail.