Some critics are blaming Mayor Bill de Blasio for the shooting of two police officers last weekend because of his calls for police reform.
Following Saturday’s assassination-style shooting of two New York City patrolmen, relations between police and Mayor Bill de Blasio have grown even more fragile. Critics are blaming the mayor for the shootings because of his campaign to reform police practices, following the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, both unarmed black men killed by white police officers.
Saturday’s shooting left officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu dead at the hands of 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who shot himself on a nearby subway platform as police approached. Brinsley, who allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend in the abdomen earlier that morning, had anti-police threats posted to his Instagram page that morning that referenced the deaths of Garner and Brown. Posts that are believed to come from Brinsley himself said “they take one of ours, let’s take two of theirs,” and “I’m putting wings on pigs today.”
Bill Bratton, New York Police Commissioner, said in an interview with TODAY, that he believes de Blasio has lost the trust of some of the city’s officers, some of whom turned their backs on the mayor on Saturday in protest as he entered the hospital where the two officer had just died. The mayor made the reform of aggressive police tactics a part of his campaign, and has continued those efforts since elected.
Some critics have seen de Blasio’s support of New York protesters as encouraging anti-police sentiment. Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani said on CNN last weekend that the current mayor’s support has sparked “intense, anti-police hatred.” He also places blame on President Obama for his comments in response to the violence. The head of the NYC police union said the mayor has “blood on his hands,” and former NY governor George Pataki said on Twitter that the shootings are a “predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric.”
It is unknown whether Brinsley was involved in any of the protests that have occurred around the nation since grand juries refused to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Garner and Brown. However, the alleged shooter has a long criminal record, arrested 19 times in the past and feared by his mother. He also has an apparent history of mental illness.
Leaders of the national protests against police violence have tried to distance themselves from Brinsley’s actions, but some politicians are laying the blame for the deaths of officers Ramo and Liu at their doors. Leading protest organizer Charles Wade said that he has said repeatedly that he is against police violence, but not against police officers in general.
Bratton said that one of his current concerns is that the issue is beginning to become partisan, taking sides along Republican and Democrat lines. The weekend’s shooting has raised questions about the Democratic Party’s strength and role in their calls for police reform and support of national protests. de Blasio tried in his press conference this weekend to downplay the role of politics in the situation, but Giulliani and others argue that his policies are directly to blame.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said that he blames the shooter and no one else, but added that he thinks de Blasio “has probably undercut his cops.” Bratton said that de Blasio has work to do to go about rebuilding police community support.