A Republican-tinged rally in support of the NYPD filled the steps of Queens Borough Hall this afternoon, accusing Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police reform movement of denigrating cops and sowing discord in the city.
Led by Joseph Concannon, a retired NYPD detective and former City Council candidate, the rally was billed as a nonpartisan affair but attracted a variety of Republican organizations and officials to decry Mr. de Blasio, a progressive Democrat.
“The real truth is today is that we stand here today representing the silent majority of New Yorkers who support the men and women of the NYPD because they want to live in a safe city,” thundered Councilman Eric Ulrich, a Queens Republican.
“We know that cops are under attack. In the media, by grandstanding politicians and elected officials, but the silent majority of New Yorkers are not protesting in the streets, the silent majority of New Yorkers are not laying down and disrupting traffic, the silent majority of New Yorkers know New York is the safest big city in America today,” he added.
The gathering of several dozen residents, activists and organizations represented the second counter-protest to the waves of anti-police brutality marches that roiled the city after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict a white police officer in the death of Eric Garner, a black man. Waving American and even “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, a symbol of the Tea Party movement, the people clustering in Queens blasted Mr. de Blasio, dubbed “Mayor Chaos” by one protester, and allies like Rev. Al Sharpton, a divisive figure in the law enforcement world. Several at the rally shouted for Mr. de Blasio to resign.
While rank and file cops didn’t join the protest, the president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Michael Palladino, took a veiled shot Mr. de Blasio, who has been at war with police unions for several months. “I am in my 36th year of the NYPD and I have never, in 36 years, witnessed such a vicious attack on the NYPD and the hard-working men and women who risk their lives every day by elected officials in this city,” he said.
Mr. Palladino, along with the presidents of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and Sergeants Benevolent Association, want Mr. de Blasio to apologize to police officers for a variety of comments he has made in public, including that he told his biracial son to take caution when interacting with the NYPD. Police are incensed that Mr. de Blasio expressed sympathy for the Eric Garner protesters, aligned himself with Mr. Sharpton and met with one prominent protest group in City Hall.
Speaker after speaker attacked the activists who claim police unfairly target and discriminate against minorities, dismissing them as ungrateful hooligans and radicals. Several nonwhite speakers like Chris Moss, the Chemung County sheriff and one-time GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, offered a robust defense of the department.
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, once a top official in Republican ex-Gov. George Pataki’s administration, said Mr. de Blasio’s leadership was “shameful.”
“All matter of hooligans have been allowed to bring chaos and violence to the streets of our city unimpeded,” Mr. Wiesenfeld said. “Mr. Mayor, it’s not too late. In fact, we’re stuck with you for three years. Apologize. Make it right in this city.”
He added: “You’re entitled to your worldview but you cannot impose your radical worldview on this city.”
Mr. Concannon promised several more pro-NYPD rallies around the five boroughs, including one at Brooklyn Borough Hall on January 20. He suggested that 5,000 people could attend.
“Who speaks for us?” Mr. Concannon asked the crowd.
“Not the mayor!” his supporters shouted back.