A lone police officer stands front as other colleagues turn their backs while Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.
A lone police officer stands front as other colleagues turn their backs while Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York.

 

One of the most memorable right-wing rhetorical flourishes that came out of the Viet Nam War war era was, “My country right or wrong.”  No doubt the working class patriots who often invoked that sentiment to express disapproval of anti-war protesters really believed that they were the true American patriots at that incredibly divisive, painful moment in our nation’s history.  I also have no doubt that they didn’t realize that the notion of “my country right or wrong” is the antithesis of what a democracy that celebrates freedom of speech is all about.  But it is a perfectly appropriate sentiment for an autocratic, populist, authoritarian dictatorship.

Since the announcement that there would be no indictment of any policeman for placing the unarmed Eric Gardner in a strangle-hold that cost him his life, Mayor Bill de Balsio’s efforts to identify and address an obvious problem in American law enforcement while simultaneously showing respect and support for New York’s men in blue has triggered  a revolt by many rank and file officers who feel unjustly reprimanded.

I  have always opposed capital punishment  because in the immortal words John McCain apropos the use of torture, “It’s about us, not them.”  I have no love for murderers but I do love my country, my community and civility.  Civilized people don’t resolve problems by taking a life,  that’s what criminals do.  Likewise, the disrespect the thousands of New York policemen have shown the mayor repeatedly by turning their backs on him in public, speaks volumes about them, their values and their priorities:

  1. If you criticize us for any reason, you are undermining our status as professionals.
  2. The fact that we arrest and shoot more men from minority groups is because “they” are more likely to be criminals, so what?
  3. Mayor de Blassio, in telling your son that because of the color of his skin he needs to be extra careful in his dealings with policemen you really didn’t address a real problem, you simply promoted disrespect for us.  WE DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THEM!
  4. We believe that public servants who do dangerous jobs like ours should never be criticized or challenged for any aspect of their job performance.   Don’t forget, we belong to a powerful union that could shut this city down!
  5. But if you dare criticize us, we will blame you for the actions of a mentally ill criminal when he kills two policemen.
  6. If a kid doesn’t like a report card she gets; if a worker doesn’t like the annual job review of their supervisor; if an elected official has to confront voters who are unhappy with his/her job performance, they can just blow their critics off.  Right? That’s how mature adults deal with criticism, right?

Is this really what courage, maturity and responsible public service looks like?  Law enforcement officers turn their backs on a live video monitor showing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has he speaks at the funeral of slain New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Rafael Ramos in New York

NYPD Cops Again Turn Backs on Mayor at Second Slain Officer’s Funeral

By BEN CANDEA

Several uniformed police officers turned their backs to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio today as he spoke during a funeral for officer Wenjian Liu despite a warning from their boss.

NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton earlier in the week sent a warning to officers who planned to attend the funeral, saying it was “about grieving, not grievance,” after several officers turned their backs to de Blasio as he spoke at another officer’s funeral last weekend.

“A hero’s funeral is about grieving, not grievance,” Bratton wrote in a memo sent to officers. The gesture “stole the valor, honor, and attention that rightfully belonged to the memory of Detective Rafael Ramos’s life and sacrifice.”

The shooting deaths of Liu and Ramos came amid heightened tensions between the police and the mayor over what some police saw as a lack of support for the force.