New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was scheduled on Tuesday to meet police union chiefs who have blamed him for exacerbating tensions between police and city residents. The meeting comes just a day after the mayor was heckled at the annual NYPD graduation ceremony .
Leaders of four NYPD unions, including the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association – whose president, Pat Lynch, said de Blasio had blood on his hands following the fatal shooting of two police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos last week – are scheduled to meet the mayor on Tuesday afternoon. De Blasio will not take questions from the press afterwards, a statement from the mayor’s office said.
The mayor has been at odds with police leaders since Ramos and Liu were killed in an ambush shooting on 20 December by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley. The gunman, who took his own life after the event, had posted on his Instagram feed before the shooting that he planned to kill two police officers to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown – two unarmed black men killed by police in recent months.
Grand jury decisions not to indict the officers responsible for the deaths of Brown and Garner sparked waves of protest in the United States, with de Blasio refusing to endorse the Staten Island grand jury decision in the Garner case.
At Ramos’s funeral on Sunday, hundreds of police officers turned their backs on the mayor from outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens as de Blasio gave a speech from inside.
At the funeral and during Monday’s NYPD graduation ceremony, de Blasio voiced support for rank-and-file officers.
“You’ll confront poverty, you’ll confront mental illness, illegal guns and a still too divided society. All of these challenges. You didn’t create these problems, but you can help our city to overcome them”, de Blasio told graduating officers on Monday, before quoting from the Bible: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”
But de Blasio’s words do not appear to have appeased union leaders. On Tuesday, the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association, another of unions attending the meeting, tweeted : “Mayor needs to humble himself & change his philosophical views on policing & the way protests have occured [sic] within the city.” The tweet now appears to have been removed .
The New York Post also reported on Tuesday that NYPD arrest statistics had reportedly fallen by 66% for the week starting 22 December, in what one unnamed police source described as an undeclared slowdown of work.
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