In the time that has passed since the grand jury decision not to indict the officer responsible for the chokehold death of New Yorker Eric Garner, newly intensified by Saturday’s cold-blooded murder of two NYPD officers, the relationship between Mayor Bill de Blasio and many New York City officers has been significantly strained. De Blasio’s comments after the grand jury decision, which included a remark about the fact he has had to teach his mixed-race son how to act around police, left many within the department feeling that the Mayor didn’t have their backs.
After Saturday’s double murder, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association leader Patrick Lynch pointed the blame at de Blasio and his support of those who protested Garner’s death. “There is blood on many hands, from those that incited violence under the guise of protest to try to tear down what police officers did every day,” Lynch said in a press conference. “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.”
Despite recent events, tension between the police union and the mayor has existed for at least two decades. Former New York Times reporter David Firestone pointed out in a series of tweets that the PBA has a history of clashing with the city’s mayors, including Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani and David Dinkins.
“In 1992, the PBA held a violent, vulgar City Hall rally against Dinkins, asking how many drug dealers he'd hugged,” one of Firestone’s tweets read. “The PBA ran ads against Bloomberg and threatened to picket the Republican National Convention in 2004,” another noted.
Giuliani, who has spoken out against de Blasio since Saturday, has perhaps had the most similar experience to that of the current mayor. Slate reported that in 1997, following a “contract dispute with police and some union leaders,” a flier circulated amongst the union that encouraged officers to request that Giuliani refrain from attending funerals for officers killed in the line of duty. De Blasio received an identical request after the comments he made following the grand jury decision and subsequent protests.
Although Commissioner Bill Bratton has supported de Blasio and spoken out against Patrick Lynch’s comments, recent events have rapidly set de Blasio and the NYPD further and further apart, and there have yet to be signs that the divide will improve any time soon.