When thousands of cops showed up yesterday to pay their respects to their slain colleague Wenjian Liu who was murdered in cold blood two weekends ago, perhaps the only question on everyone's mind was whether the local police would - once again - turn their back on NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, who as we reported previously, the NYPD is engaged in a cold war with, with arrests and citations plummeting in recent weeks as a result of what has become a police boycott of city hall.
The answer: a resounding yes, and as the AP reports, "thousands of police turned their backs Sunday as Mayor Bill de Blasio eulogized an officer shot dead with his partner, repeating a stinging display of scorn for the mayor despite entreaties to put anger aside."
The show of disrespect came outside the funeral home where Officer Wenjian Liu was remembered as an incarnation of the American dream: a man who had emigrated from China at age 12 and devoted himself to helping others in his adopted country. The gesture among officers watching the mayor's speech on a screen added to tensions between the mayor and rank-and-file police even as he sought to quiet them.
After hundreds of officers turned their backs to a screen where de Blasio's remarks played during Ramos' funeral last week, Police Commissioner William Bratton sent a memo urging respect, declaring "a hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance."
But some officers and police retirees said they still felt compelled to spurn the mayor. Police union leaders have said he contributed to an environment that allowed the officers' slayings by supporting protests following the police killings of Eric Garner on Staten Island and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
"The mayor has no respect for us. Why should we have respect for him?" said retired New York Police Department Detective Camille Sanfilippo, who was among those who turned their backs Sunday. Retired NYPD Sgt. Laurie Carson called the action "our only way to show our displeasure with the mayor."
As the AP adds, after Sunday's show of disdain, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said officers "have a right to have our opinion heard, like everyone else that protests out in the city" and noted that officers' "organic gesture" was outside the service. The mayor got a respectful reception among police officials inside.
The NYPD declined to comment, and de Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak said the mayor was focused on honoring the fallen officers.
And then there was this: retired NYPD officer John Mangan stood with a sign that read: "God Bless the NYPD. Dump de Blasio." And Patrick Yoes, a national secretary with the 328,000-member Fraternal Order of Police, praised Lynch's stance toward the mayor.
"Across this country, we seem to be under attack in the law enforcement profession," Yoes said. "We are public servants. We are not public enemies."
That may well be the case, yet many wonder: just why the need for such an unprecedented police militarization that has many debating whether the SWATization of America's police forces isn't just a preview of what is to come?