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NYC Mayor de Blasio: Police were disrespectful to turn backs

January 6, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was “disrespectful” for some New York Police Department officers to turn their backs to him during a pair of funerals for slain police officers.

The acts of protest were hurtful to the families of the two cops killed in an ambush last month, de Blasio said in his first public remarks on the officers’ protests.

The chasm between the police unions and de Blasio has created the biggest crisis of his year-old tenure. Police union leaders have said he contributed to an environment that allowed the officers’ slayings by supporting protests following the police killings of unarmed black men in New York City and Ferguson, Missouri.

De Blasio argued that the public rebuke was an offense to the city at large.

“Those individuals who took certain actions the last two weeks, they were disrespectful to the families involved. That’s the bottom line,” de Blasio said at a news conference, held at police headquarters. “They were disrespectful to the families who lost their loved ones. I can’t understand why anyone would do such a thing in the context like that.”

Patrick Lynch, head of the city’s rank-and-file police union, said after the deaths of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu that de Blasio had “blood on his hands.” Thousands of officers turned their backs on de Blasio when he delivered eulogies at Ramos’ funeral last month and again Sunday at Liu’s funeral.

Police Commissioner William Bratton, who has steadfastly supported the mayor during the widening rift with the rank-and-file, also condemned the action, saying the officers involved “embarrassed themselves.”

He also called the protests a selfish act that dominated the news coverage and diverted attention from the two slain officers.