Mayor Bill de Blasio was booed just moments before vowing to protect police officers at the New York Police Department graduation on Monday, two weeks after the execution-style killing of two NYPD officers.
“On this day that we want to focus on your great achievement. A day that so many of you have looked forward to — I’m sure it is a day you simultaneously feel some apprehension and your families do as well,” the mayor said, before acknowledging the need to protect the officers.
“We ask you to selflessly protect others, but it’s our job to protect you,” de Blasio said. He added that the city would provide training, resources, and funding for the 894 new officers who graduated on Monday so they could do their jobs safely and well.
While he was met with some and jeers at Monday's event, the graduates did not turn their backs on de Blasio, as some officers have done in recent weeks. The gesture of disrespect is meant to signal criticism of the mayor for the deaths of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The partners were fatally shot by Ismaaiyl Brinsley on Dec. 20 as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Brinsley, who killed himself shortly after the brutal shooting, had posted anti-police sentiment on social media and was believed to be mentally ill.
The unprovoked killing led some police organizations to sharply criticize the mayor for not defending the officers in light of anti-police sentiment throughout the nation. One police union head alleged that de Blasio had “blood on [his] hands" because he spoke about the divide between minorities and law enforcement, and because the mayor specifically said in the past that he advised his black son to use caution when interacting with police. Officers have turned their backs on de Blasio repeatedly since the officers' deaths, prompting criticism from NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
The mayor was also booed — with some cheers interspersed — when he told the officers, “You didn’t create these problems, but you can help our city to overcome them. You can be part of the solution."
In addition to a moment of silence earlier in the ceremony, de Blasio honored Liu and Ramos, noting that just two weeks prior, “We lost two peacemakers, we lost two heroes. They stood up for all that is good and right and gave us hope.”