Brooklyn pols say ‘pause’ protests, borough activists vow to march on

Brooklyn pols say ‘pause’ protests, borough activists vow to march on
Photo by Paul Martinka

Give it a rest, but keep it up.

That is the message of some Brooklyn pols who are calling for anti-police-brutality protesters to stay off the streets for a few days while the families and colleagues of the officers killed in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday mourn. Borough President Adams has been saying since Sunday that the demonstrators upset with grand juries’ decisions not to indict cops in the killings of Michael Brown in Missouri and Gowanus native Eric Garner on Staten Island need to at least delay their next march until funerals have been held for officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

“The marchers should hit the pause button,” Adams said. “I am in full support of them continuing, but it should be after the officers have been laid to rest.”

Ramos’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday morning in Queens. Details of memorial services for Liu have not yet been announced.

Mayor DeBlasio joined the call on Monday, saying:

“It’s time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time. That can be for another day.”

DeBlaiso’s speech came as flags flew at half-mast citywide to honor the officers who police say Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot without warning as they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Brinsley, who family members have told reporters has a history of mental illness, travelled to Brooklyn from Baltimore, Maryland with the aim of killing police, and social media posts shortly before the shooting cited the deaths of Garner and Michael Brown as justification, police said.

NYPD unions declared the murders DeBlasio’s fault within hours of the officers’ deaths, with leaders of both the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association saying that he has blood on his hands. The unions orchestrated a silent protest on Saturday evening, with dozens of officers turning their backs as DeBlasio entered Woodhull Medical Center, where Liu and Ramos had just died. The murders and subsequent union outcry bring to a head a long-running conflict with the mayor, who union leaders have long said is insufficiently supportive of officers, and who a rep recently faulted for saying, in a discussion of the protests that have gripped the city for a month, that he warned his mixed-race son Dante to be cautious when dealing with police.

City Hall and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have said much of the union criticism stems from ongoing contract negotiations, which started in May.

In addition to blaming DeBlasio for Brinsley’s acts, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Pat Lynch blamed protesters, calling them, “those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day.”

Adams, a former police captain with 22 years on the force, rejected the notion that activists are at fault, saying that Brinsley was clearly deranged, and pointing out that he first shot his ex-girlfriend in Maryland before traveling to Bedford-Stuyvesant with murder on his mind.

“This was a loony toon. A sick person who did a sick act, whose first victim was a civilian,” Adams said. “For the most part the protests have been a picture-perfect demonstration of democracy in America.”

But Adams blasted officers’ own act of protest, calling it an insult to the “symbol of the mayor’s office.”

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–East Flatbush) has been a fixture at the anti-police brutality marches. He echoed the calls for a brief break in the action during a cable news appearance.

“I personally believe there should be a day or two- or three-day moratorium out of respect for the officers that were executed,” Williams said on MSNBC on Monday.

Many of the organizations involved in the protests condemned the shooting and distanced themselves from any acts of violence. But some organizers are unmoved by the requests to stay home, and are planning a march this evening to shut down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, which they call “a playground for the global one percent.”

One Bay Ridge rabble-rouser ventured that it is possible to respect the deaths of police officers while also demanding action on behalf of people who police officers killed.

“Sisters and brothers, we can mourn the death of police and by police. They are not mutually exclusive,” Linda Sarsour wrote on Monday on her personal blog. “Asking black Americans and communities of color to ‘stop protesting’ is unreasonable. To engage in requests to elected officials to suppress the constitutional rights of segments of the American population makes you no better than the countries we are quick to criticize for lack of democracy.”

A pol who represents a nearby southern Brooklyn district didn’t take a stand on whether or not people should protest, but did say in an e-mail listing several times he commended police that tolerance must prevail.

“We can continually strive for improvements, but in doing so, we must never accept creating a climate of the vilifying of any group,” said Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bath Beach).

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhuro‌witz@‌cnglo‌cal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
On the scene: Borough President Adams speaks at the memorial to Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, calling for unity and a pause to the protests that have been ongoing in New York since a grand jury ruled not to indict a white officer in the death of Missouri teen Michael Brown.
Associated Press / Seth Wenig