NEW YORK, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called for calm as he attempted to present leadership to a city torn over anger over police brutality and the shooting deaths of two police officers.
Speaking at Police Headquarters Monday, with Police Commissioner William Bratton by his side, de Blasio asked the city to "put aside political debates, put aside protests" until the funerals of the police officers were concluded.
Protests over the refusal of a grand jury to indict police officers involved in the arrest and choking death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, followed by the execution-style shooting deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who mentioned on social media he sought revenge for Garner's death, have provided the city with a pendulum of public outrage.
De Blasio, who campaigned for the mayor's office critical of police tactics that included stopping people on the street to question and frisk them, has had a fractious relationship with Bratton and with the police union.
While protests continued, police union leader Patrick Lynch claimed there was "blood on the hands" of City Hall for not involving itself earlier in the anti-police zeal. In a show of disapproval, police turned their backs on de Blasio and Bratton as they visited the hospital where the two injured police officers were taken, and former New York Police Department Commissioner Howard Safir, writing in Time magazine, referred to an "atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years of law enforcement."
The rhetoric has slowed after the deaths of Liu and Ramos, and Bratton has become an essential link between the Mayor's office and the police.
"Do some officers not like the Mayor? Guaranteed," Bratton said after de Blasio spoke at Police Headquarters Monday. "Amazingly, some don't" like their Commissioner either, he said to laughter.