Just over a year after sailing into office with 72 percent of the vote on a message of transformational change, de Blasio found his mayoralty subsumed by a torrent of anger, unleashed by the murder of two police officers in Brooklyn Saturday by a troubled gunman who said he was killing “pigs” to avenge the deaths of two men by cops in Staten Island and Ferguson, Missouri. By Monday, de Blasio was lashing out at the press corps that covers him, trying to paper over public divisions with his own police commissioner and coping with what friends described as the emotional blow of facing public rejection by many in the nation’s biggest police force. “He’s pretty badly shaken” by the murders, one told us.
That a civic tragedy would so quickly devolve into a full-blown political crisis for the new mayor was testament to the vehemence of anti-de Blasio elements in the police union – and the mayor’s mistaken belief that his 2013 victory gave him the right to shred an old Gotham political playbook that dictated a mayor show deference to the NYPD.
You can’t be big-city mayor and alienate the cops – and that’s just as true now as it was under three-term New York City Mayor Ed Koch, or even a century ago.
And by “alienate the cops” they mean de Blasio remarking that maybe going around choking unarmed black men to death on smartphone video is something New York’s Finest might want to refrain from doing. You can’t do that, you see. Or at least de Blasio can’t. I wonder why?
But de Blasio’s unpopularity with the historically white-dominated NYPD parallels his increasing struggles with white New Yorkers, who now disapprove of him by a nearly two-to-one margin in public polling. When confronted with similar polling numbers over the last year, de Blasio allies have repeatedly said that the mayor retains the strong backing of non-white New Yorkers and the Democratic base – and claimed the mayor’s private polling showed a much more modest racial disparity.
The blue rage isn’t rooted in any one statement de Blasio has made against cops – in fact, he has been universally supportive of the rank-and-file in his public utterances. But in his past roles as a public official, he’s often sided with the victims of police brutality, and recently told an interviewer that he has told Dante, his teenaged mixed-race son, not to reach for a cellphone around officers because it might put him in danger as a “a young man of color.” He took the unusual step — unimaginable under the mayoralties of Rudy Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg — of inviting Sharpton to City Hall, seating him opposite Bratton at a table where the activist proceeded to strongly denounce the police. (“If Dante wasn’t your son, he’d be a candidate for a chokehold. And we got to deal with that reality,” Sharpton said to de Blasio as Bratton looked on.) Last week, de Blasio privately met with organizers of the Garner protests, another moment that antagonized police.
Gosh, Team WIN THE MORNING certainly is implying a number of reasons why the NYPD doesn’t like de Blasio, and very few have to do with the NYPD and everything to do with de Blasio’s family. The article starts out comparing de Blasio’s “mistakes” to Obama’s (as in treating the NYPD as rational actors the way Obama did with the GOP in his first year when they clearly wanted to destroy him from day one) and notes that de Blasio hasn’t actually said any “anti-police rhetoric” other than “Hey, there are laws you guys need to follow too, like not murdering people.”
I don’t like like the implication.
I like it less because I think for once Politico is right, and the awful part is the advice here of “Know your role and shut your mouth” would probably be best for the Mayor and his family. But it’s not the best advice for the people of New York and America. Somebody needs to remind the cops who they work for, and if de Blasio doesn’t stand up to these assholes, nobody else is going to do it for him.
That’s what being the mayor of a big city means.