After five police officers were murdered in Dallas, Texas, last night during a protest against police brutality, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters today that similar protests in New York City would be heavily policed, and promised a firm response if protesters disobey direct orders from law enforcement.
“We do not want to see anything that would create a harm to anyone. We do not want to see traffic delayed more than it has to be,” de Blasio said. “So there’s going to be clear, clear lines, and the protesters need to be very clear about the fact that once the police warn them that they are subject to arrest, that is a very, very serious statement. And that anyone who does not abide by the instructions of the police will be arrested.”
The mayor went on to ask that protesters show “some decency” in the coming days, and respect the officers who patrol their rallies in an effort to “protect their first-amendment rights.”
“You can speak up for whatever cause you believe in,” de Blasio said. “But at a time like this in particular, such a difficult and painful time for our police and their families, show some decency and respect for people going through so much.”
The NYPD arrested 42 people last night during a protest decrying the slayings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, whose deaths at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota this week were captured on video. Many of the arrests came after protesters marched through traffic and staged a sit-in near Times Square.
The mayor’s comments came during a press conference held with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, as the two of them explained what the Dallas killings meant for the city.
Compared with de Blasio (who told Brian Lehrer this morning that “We’ve got to create trust”), Bratton played the Good Cop.
“It needs to be a clarion call for all of us in this country to take seriously the grievances that many in the minority communities in this country have,” Bratton said of the attack in Dallas, “as well as the concerns that police have, about not feeling that they’re understood in terms of all that they face, and all that they try to do.”
“We need to try to find common ground as we go forward,” he added.
Bratton’s comments stand in stark contrast to those he made after the killing of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, in 2014.
“It’s quite apparent, quite obvious that the targeting [of] these two police officers was a direct spin-off of this issue of these demonstrations,” Bratton told ABC’s Today Show at the time.
In an echo of the aftermath of the Liu and Ramos killings, officers in the NYPD have been told to patrol only in pairs, for the safety of officers, until further notice.
“One of the things that we always take seriously in any time are threats against our officers,” Bratton said.
Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest police union in New York City, also released a statement today condemning the “erroneous information and inflammatory rhetoric” that he says is fueling anger at police.
“We have said it many times before: the loss of life — every life — is a tragedy,” Lynch says, in a glancing reference to Sterling and Castile, whose deaths at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota this week were captured on video.
“But much of the anger directed at police officers over the past few years has been fueled by erroneous information and inflammatory rhetoric put forward by groups and individuals whose agenda has nothing to do with justice,” Lynch said.
In his statement, Lynch seemingly chastises the mayor for his comments on WNYC, in which he said he’d been disturbed by the deaths of Castile and Sterling.
“Our elected leaders fail us when they prejudge incidents without having all the facts and disparage all law enforcement,” Lynch said in the statement.