Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday called for protesters to suspend demonstrations in the aftermath of the killing of two New York police officers, who were gunned down in Brooklyn as they sat in their patrol car.
“It’s 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,” Mr. de Blasio said in a speech. “That can be for another day.”
The mayor’s call came a few hours after the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said that the killing of the officers on Saturday was a “direct spinoff of this issue” of the protests that have roiled the nation in recent weeks.
The protests were born of frustration that black people are not treated fairly in the criminal justice system but the demonstrations have often focused broadly on police officers.
For weeks since a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, protesters have taken to the streets to call for reforms.
While mostly peaceful, those protests have also featured vitriolic and personal attacks that condemn those who wear a badge as racists and worse.
When Ismaaiyl Brinsley boarded a bus to New York on Saturday morning, he had made his intentions clear for the world to see on social media — he wanted to kill police officers.
On Monday afternoon, the police said that their investigation revealed Mr. Brinsley to be “disturbed” individual who harbored a hatred for the government and the police.
He attended a protest against the police in Union Square on Dec. 1, recording some of the demonstration on his cellphone.
Mr. Bratton said that while investigators were still trying to learn more about Mr. Brinsley’s background, they had concluded that the protests served as an inspiration for the disturbed man.
“It is quite apparent, quite obvious, that the targeting of these two police officers was a direct spinoff of this issue of these demonstrations,” Mr. Bratton said during an interview on the NBC “Today” show.
Mr. Brinsley shot and killed Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, on Saturday afternoon in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, as the two sat in their patrol car. Minutes later, Mr. Brinsley fatally shot himself, the police said.
Mr. de Blasio on Monday morning visited the families of both officers, an experience he described as incredibly difficult.
“They are suffering an unspeakable pain right now,” he said. “These families are now our families and we will stand by them.”
Mr. de Blasio spoke at a luncheon hosted by the Police Athletic League, a youth organization, where he called for political issues and protests to be put aside for the moment so the focus could remain on mourning and honoring the officers.
“Our first obligation is to respect these families,” he said. “Our first obligation is to stand by them in every way we can. And I call upon everyone to focus on these families in these next days.”
He also called on people to report anyone who makes threats of violence against the police — whether online or out on the streets during demonstrations.
“We have to understand that the attack on them is an attack on all of us,” he said.
The mayor made similar remarks later on Monday during a news conference with Mr. Bratton at Police Headquarters.
Mr. Brinsley had a long criminal record, having been arrested at least 19 times, and he shot his former girlfriend earlier on Saturday.
Chief Robert K. Boyce, the chief of detectives, speaking at a news conference on Monday, said that before Mr. Brinsley shot the woman, he put the gun to his own head. She talked him out of killing himself only to be shot herself, he said.
Mr. Bratton said the police were still trying to determine his last residence, where they hope to find more evidence that will help them better understand his motivations.
The police are also trying to find out more about what Mr. Brinsley did in the hours before killing the officers. While the police have been able to detail Brinsley’s movements as he made his was from Maryland to New York, the trail goes cold from about noon until the shooting at 2:47 p.m.
He was last seen at the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, at 12:07 p.m. wearing a jacket with a distinctive patch of an Indian head and the police released video of him leaving a store.
But even as the investigation continues, Mr. de Blasio has been criticized by some in the Police Department for encouraging the protesters by not speaking out more vehemently against some of their more heated rhetoric.
When asked at the news conference on Monday about protesters who carried signs equating the police with the K.K.K. and chanted vicious slogans, Mr. de Blasio took issue with the premise that there was an outpouring of hate speech at the recent demonstrations.
His voice rising, he defended his approach to the protests and said that much of the fault lay with the news media, which he said gave voice to the more extreme voices.
“There are some people who say hateful things,” he said. “They have no place in these protests.”
However, he said, most of the people were law-abiding.
“I don’t see reports on the many decent people,” he said.
Critics have seized on comments Mr. de Blasio made about how he warned his son of the dangers he might face as a young black man when dealing with the police. When protesters attacked police officers during a protest march in Brooklyn, critics pounced on his use of the word “allegedly” to describe the assault, much of which was captured in videos.
More broadly, Mr. de Blasio has been working since he took office to heal the wounds from an often bitter campaign during which he focused much of his attention on the need to reform the Police Department. While the mayor’s aides have said that he was campaigning against a tactic, that was not the only message many in the department heard.
On Sunday, Raymond W. Kelly, who was the police commissioner during the Bloomberg administration, once again said that in his view — and in the view of many officers — Mr. de Blasio ran on an “anti-police” platform.
That long-simmering ill will came to a full boil in the hours after the shooting on Saturday. In a stunning display of discontent, dozens of officers turned their back on the mayor as he walked through the hallway of the hospital where the officers had been rushed after the shooting.
Three unions representing uniformed police officers, sergeants and detectives are refraining from speaking publicly until after the funerals of the two slain officers are completed, two union officials said.
The decision came after calls from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to the leaders of each union, according to one of the union officials.
Even before the timing of the funerals had yet to be set, Mr. Cuomo called in an effort to calm frayed nerves after Patrick J. Lynch of the patrolmen’s union and Edward D. Mullins of the sergeants’ union laid the blame for the officers’ deaths at the feet of Mr. de Blasio.
On Sunday, Mr. de Blasio attended a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but otherwise remained out of public view.
In his interview on Monday, Mr. Bratton defended the mayor, saying it was unfair to blame him for any increased level of threat being faced by the police.
But he acknowledged that there are those in the department who are deeply upset with Mr. de Blasio.
When asked if the mayor had lost the trust of the police, Mr. Bratton said, “I think he has lost it with some officers.”
Later, at the news conference with the mayor, Mr. Bratton downplayed those remarks, saying that tension between police unions and City Hall is something that many mayors have confronted.
“Do some officers not like this mayor?” Mr. Bratton asked rhetorically. “Guaranteed,” he answered. “Some don’t like me.”
But it would be wrong to suggest that it was something deeper than that, he said.
“It is part of life,” he said. “It is part of politics.”
Source: NY Times