Another police union boss has entered the funeral fray.
Sergeants Benevolent Association President Edward Mullins defended rank-and-file union head Patrick Lynch for posting a petition online in which cops can ask Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to skip their funerals should they die in the line of duty.
“I think in many ways the PBA President Pat Lycnh is being unfairly judged. What people are not aware of is he had a delegate meeting on Friday, and his delegates which are reflective of his members have really expressed the anger that’s being felt in the rank and file against Mayor de Blasio,” Mr. Mullins, an outspoken critic of the mayor, told Geraldo Rivera on WABC radio today.
Mr. Lynch’s union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, posted the petition online Friday. The form, to which officers can add their name, calls the attendance of Mr. de Blasio or Ms. Mark-Viverito an a fallen officer’s funeral “an insult to that officer’s memory and sacrifice” due to the officials’ “consistent refusal to show police officers the support and respect they deserve.”
Many have assailed the petition as a new low in the ongoing conflict between police and unions—particularly the PBA and the SBA, the only two yet to reach a contract deal—and City Hall, particularly in the wake of the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died as police tried to arrest him in Staten Island.
While his union isn’t taking part of the petition, Mr. Mullins hedged on whether the mayor would be welcome at his own funeral, should he lose his life.
“I would think that at a time of crisis, that that decision is made and whatever works to help get a cop and his family through a tough situation is one that will be decided at that moment in time,” Mr. Mullins said.
Mr. Rivera pressed Mr. Mullins on what his widow might do, until Mr. Mullins retorted: “To be honest, I’m in the middle of a divorce.”
Whether to sign the petition is an individual choice, Mr. Mullins said.
“If no one signs it then I guess in the end we can say that PBA President Pat Lynch was wrong. But it’s my understanding that he’s getting hundreds of signatures,” Mr. Mullins said.
(A PBA spokesman said centralized collection of the petitions has just begun.)
Appearing on The View this morning, Mr. de Blasio said police funerals are a time the community must come together—which includes the presence of elected officials.
“It’s divisive, it’s inappropriate,” he said of the petition.
Recent days have seen pleas for civility and unity. Former cop Borough President Eric Adams invited Mr. Lynch to join him as he beat a drum 11 times, for each time Garner said “I can’t breathe,” and then another 80 times for fallen police officers. Cardinal Timothy Dolan penned an op-ed in the Daily News knocking both the portrayal of cops as bigots and the move to ban Mr. de Blasio from “sacred” funerals.
But it doesn’t quite seem that the rhetoric is dying down. Police unions have slammed the mayor for using the word “allegedly” in describing an assault on cops at a protest; today Mr. Mullins knocked the mayor as a hypocrite for seeking in court to shut down the movement of untaxed cigarettes, a crime he’s previously downplayed when discussing the Garner case.
“It’s really up to him now to do things that are gonna help to establish, to build bridges,” Mr. Mullins said of the mayor. “We can all agree to disagree, I’ll be the first to say it, but bridges need to be built.”
Mr. Mullins said the mayor could do that by bringing unions and protesters to the table—but only with people of “credibility,” harkening back to the unions’ frustration with the inclusion of Rev. Al Sharpton at a summit earlier this summer.
“I think he needs to get us all to the table with people of credibility, people who are going to be credible with real solutions,” Mr. Mullins said. “I don’t attribute Al Sharpton as a person of credibility, by any means.”