Detroit, MI – About 40 New York Police Department (NYPD) officers followed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to the Democratic Presidential debate in Detroit on Wednesday night to protest his appearance and demand he return to the city to finish contract negotiations.
“Can’t run the city, can’t run the country” and “Mayor de Blasio, no friend of labor!” the officers chanted outside the Fox Theatre where the second round of debates was being moderated by CNN, FOX News reported.
The police, who were protesting their mayor’s appearance in the debate on behalf of the New York City Police Benevolent Association (PBA), said that NYPD officers have been out of contract for two years and that de Blasio wanted to give them raises that fell well below current inflation.
“We’re here to tell our mayor that he should come back and finish the job that he ran for,” NYPD Officer Joseph Alejandro told Fox News. “He ran to be the mayor of New York City and now he’s doing this run, we don’t know why but he’s got a lot of unfinished work in this city and one of those things is he should be negotiating with us.”
“He keeps running away from us... so we’re going to chase him as much as we have to, we’re going to make sure he knows that he should be back at the table and do his job,” Officer Alejandro said.
The mayor has had a contentious relationship with his police department since he took office, according to FOX News.
The first Democratic presidential debate in June did nothing to improve that relationship when de Blasio told America that he had counseled his biracial son Dante on “how to protect himself in the streets of our city… including the fact that he has to take special caution because there have been too many tragedies between young men and our police.”
In the month since then, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would not be charging NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, causing outrage in the community.
In response, de Blasio announced that going forward, officers would be disciplined before investigations were completed.
And more recently, criminals have been dumping buckets of water on police officers responding to emergency calls in various parts of the city.
On Wednesday morning, New York State Assemblyman Mike LiPetri, of Long Island, announced he was proposing legislation that would make it a Class E felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, to throw liquid on a police officer.
During the press conference to announce the bill, LiPetri called on de Blasio to bring the matter up on stage during the debate that night and show his support for law enforcement.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, the mayor became the target of more than one opponent for not having fired Officer Pantaleo in relation to the death of Eric Garner.
Presidential hopeful Julian Castro, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017, was the first to invoke Eric Garner’s name when he bragged about being the only candidate to have a “Police Reform Plan.”
Castro called for a national use of force standard and putting an end to qualified immunity for officers.
Then he quoted Garner’s famous last words: “I can’t breathe.”
“He knew what he was doing – that he was killing Eric Garner – and yet he has not been brought to justice. That police officer should be off the street,” Castro said.
The CNN moderator asked de Blasio why Officer Pantaleo had not been fired.
The mayor avoided answering the question and blamed federal prosecutors for dragging their feet.
Then he said he thought the family would get justice in the next 30 days because of the policy changes he was making with regard to investigations.
“There will never be another tragedy, there will never be another Eric Garner because we’re changing fundamentally how we police,” de Blasio vowed.
Those remarks were not the kind of support the NYPD officers wanted to hear.
The mayor’s Presidential primary opponent, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), had no problem answering the question the mayor avoided.
“He should be fired. He should be fired now…,” Gillibrand said, and gave de Blasio a scathing look. “If I was the mayor, I’d fire him. But as President, I would make sure that we had a full investigation, that the report would be made public, and if I wasn’t satisfied, we would have a consent decree.”