N.Y. mayor calls for temporary halt in protests
New York — Mayor Bill de Blasio, trying to stanch the bitter fallout from the weekend slayings of two policemen and salvage support from officers, called Monday for protesters who have alleged police brutality to halt their marches and for angry rhetoric to end.
De Blasio made his comments in a speech to the Police Athletic League, a nonprofit group, reaching out to officers whose union leaders have accused him of siding with demonstrators who began almost daily marches in New York last July after the death of Eric Garner during an altercation with police.
Garner was an unarmed black man, and protesters have contended that he was representative of a policing style that is overly aggressive when dealing with minorities. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a black man who shot dead the two New York policemen Saturday, invoked Garner's name in online anti-police messages posted before the killings.
Union leaders have said Brinsley's act was perpetrated in part by de Blasio's decision to allow marchers to take to the streets in huge numbers. The war of words peaked when Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Saturday night that de Blasio had blood on his hands.
"I think it's important that regardless of people's viewpoints that everyone step back," de Blasio said after visiting the homes of the slain officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. "I think it's a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in all due time."
Describing the shooting, de Blasio said: "It was an attack on every single New Yorker, and we have to see it as such."
It is unclear whether protest organizers or union officials will heed the calls to rein in their activities.