Mayor Bill de Blasio called for peace and unity while quoting scripture at an NYPD graduation ceremony on Monday, after being met with both boos and applause.
Tensions between de Blasio and the NYPD remain high following the execution style shooting deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley in Brooklyn Dec. 20. On Monday, the mayor spoke at a graduation ceremony in Madison Square Garden for nearly 900 new police officers and though he was heckled and booed, he was also met with some polite cheers.
"You can be part of the solution and that is a blessing," de Blasio told the crowd before quoting the Bible "'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be children of God,' (Matthew 5:9). We lost two peacemakers nine days ago. We lost two heroes. They were children of God for sure."
At one point he said, "You will be confronted with problems you didn't create ..." and one heckler interjected "No, you did!"
The tense moment came just two days after NYPD officers used Ramos' funeral in Queens as an opportunity to protest the mayor's comments from earlier this month when he alleged that police officers pose a potential threat to minority youth. A group of well over 100 officers collectively turned their backs on him while he spoke during the funeral, which drew criticism.
"I certainly don't support that action yesterday, I think it was very inappropriate at that event," New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "That funeral was held to honor officer Ramos, and to bring politics or to bring issues into that event, I think, was very inappropriate and I do not support it."
The officers protest, however, came after de Blasio told ABC's "This Week," that parents of color must "train [their children] to be very careful when they have an encounter with a police officer."
De Blasio asserted: "With Dante, very early on, we said, 'Look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do. Don't move suddenly. Don't reach for your cellphone.' Because we knew, sadly, there's a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color."
Some critics, namely police union head Patrick Lynch, believe the mayor has sided with protesters in the wake of civil unrest, and subsequently has blood on his hands after the shooting.
"There's blood on many hands tonight," said Lynch, after helping orchestrate the first back-turning snub at Woodhull Hospital where the slain officers were pronounced dead on Dec. 20. "That blood starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor."
De Blasio's Deputy Press Secretary, Wiley Norvell, told The Christian Post on Monday that right now the city's focus is on honoring the slain officers and promoting unity in the wake of such "tragedy."
"The Ramos and Liu families, our police department and our city are dealing with an unconscionable tragedy. Our sole focus is unifying this city and honoring the lives of our two police officers," Norvell said.