Bill de Blasio: NYPD turning backs in protest was 'inappropriate'

 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) says that the actions of city police officers who turned their backs on him after two colleagues were killed were “really inappropriate.”

De Blasio made the remarks in a Friday interview with the Associated Press.

Fierce debates about the relationship between police and members of New York’s minority communities defined de Blasio’s first year in office and swelled into a national discussion. 

After the death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, at the hands of officers in Staten Island, N.Y., last July, de Blasio tried to walk a line between supporting officers on one hand and, on the other, expressing sympathy for non-white citizens who feel that the police are prone to using excessive force against them. 

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Tensions rose further in December after a grand jury declined to indict any police officers in the Garner case.

Soon after, a gunman assassinated two NYPD officers in their car in Brooklyn, and criticism from police unions bubbled over into white-hot anger at de Blasio, who in the minds of some officers had fostered resentment towards police with his comments. 

Some officers turned their backs to de Blasio when he appeared in a number of public settings, including a speech at the hospital that received the two officers.

De Blasio shared a three-point plan with the Associated Press that his aides developed to attempt to win back support from the officers: focus on the grieving families of the officers, use surrogates like Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Police Commissioner William Bratton to speak for de Blasio, and tone down rhetoric with the union brass.

"I think the public cared that City Hall stepped back from the debate and respected the families. Some others didn't,'" de Blasio told the AP. He said that officers turning their backs was  “an overstep—really inappropriate.”

When asked if he had regrets, he said he should have spoken out against some of the more harsh protestors.

“I didn't understand how vile some of the language was," he said.

"I wish I had understood better because there's no question in my mind it was unacceptable behavior even if Constitutionally protected."

De Blasio elsewhere struck an optimistic tone about his recent rift with the city’s police officers.

"I do believe things are much better. I believe the dialogue is moving forward,” he said.