Mayor Bill de Blasio was heckled from a crowd filling the stands of Madison Square Garden today as he took the podium to address the NYPD’s stone-faced new graduating class.
Addressing 884 of New York’s newest cops two days after police pointedly turned their backs to him as he spoke at the funeral of murdered Officer Rafael Ramos, Mr. de Blasio walked to the stand amid a thunder of combined claps and catcalls from a crowd of the new graduates’ friends and family members. The mayor—who has struggled with law enforcement advocates amid weeks of anti-police protests and the assassination last week of Mr. Ramos and his partner, Officer Wenjian Liu—lauded the young officers and tried to strike a conciliatory note, despite occasional bitter interjections from hecklers.
“It takes a special kind of person to put their life on the line for others. To stare down the danger. That’s what you will do: stare down the danger. You will keep the peace,” he said. “You will confront all manner of problems. Let’s be honest about the realities of our society. You will confront all of the problems that plague our society. Problems that you didn’t create.”
A voice in the audience immediately responded by shouting “You did,” provoking a wave of applause that briefly drowned out the mayor’s amplified speech.
The mayor also took a moment to eulogize Mr. Ramos and Mr. Liu, who were posthumously promoted to the rank of detective.
“We lost two heroes. They were children of God for sure. We mourn them, Detective Rafael Ramos and Detective Wenjian Liu,” he said.
The mayor’s office immediately attempted damage control, blasting an email out to reporters noting that the jeers were mixed with cheers, and recalling that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg drew boos from a similar crowd in 2003 after he threatened police layoffs.
“We heard a mix of applause and boos today. Want to remind folks that today was not the first time a NYC Mayor has been booed at a police graduation,” spokeswoman Marti Adams wrote in a statement.