Hearts and minds: Anti-police protesters crash memorial for slain NYPD officers

Part of the reason for the major public rift between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police forces he commands has been the freedom that anti-police protesters have enjoyed over the past several weeks.

New York Police Department officers chafed over allowing protesters, incensed over the decision of a Staten Island grand jury to issue no-bill over the killing of Eric Garner, to take over major arteries in the city. In the wake of that grand jury’s decision, protesters crowded the FDR Drive, halted traffic on the West Side Highway, temporarily blocked circulation in and out of the Lincoln Tunnel, and seized the Brooklyn Bridge. For commuters traveling over the Thanksgiving Holiday, the unmistakable impression they got was that New York’s new and inexperienced mayor was on the side of the protesters rather than those who were abiding by city and state laws.

According to a report via the well-connected Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush in Politico, those commuters were not entirely unmistaken. Though de Blasio may not have felt himself entirely in league with the protest movement, he certainly sought to cater to them so as to avoid inflaming an already volatile situation.

People close to de Blasio also said he supported the Garner protesters not because he backed their position, but because he wanted to avoid antagonizing them in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict the officer who killed Garner. Above all, one source said, de Blasio wanted to avoid provoking riots akin to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white cop shot an unarmed black man whom he later said had attacked him.

This disconnect between America’s elected officials, who have been effectively intimidated by a small but menacing anti-law enforcement protest movement and the greater public has, in part, fueled the backlash against the mayor’s office in the wake of the execution-style murder of two NYPD officers.

In an effort to project concern, New York City’s embattled mayor requested that the city’s protesters, to whom he has extended a perhaps inappropriate level of deference over the last several weeks, to observe a moratorium on demonstrations against the NYPD until after slain Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were laid to rest. De Blasio’s appeals have gone ignored.

According to a CNN reporter who was on the scene in Brooklyn on Monday at a memorial honoring the fallen officers, a group of protesters stormed the commemorative service and began screaming at the attending officers (h/t The Blaze).

While reporting on this episode, Sara Ganim made an effort to insist that the vast majority of those who attended this memorial were supportive of the NYPD. Her efforts could not have been more thoroughly undermined, however, by the sounds of angry protesters whom she had to speak over in order to be heard.

“I do, just in full disclosure, want to say that in the last couple of minutes, for the first time today, we’ve seen protesters come out here and start yelling at groups of police who are mourning their slain police officers,” Ganim ultimately conceded.

“What do those protesters want?” CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux asked. “What do they say?”

“It’s just a few of them, Suzanne,” Ganim replied. “Like I said, just in the last five minutes, and they’re quite frankly yelling at a group of police officers who are standing here silently, just looking at the memorial of candles and flowers and posters. And they’re yelling similar rhetoric that we’ve been hearing over the last couple of weeks related to the shooting of — the chokehold death of Eric Garner and the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri.”

“So it’s very, you know, sentiments that we’ve been hearing,” she added.

This episode is unlikely to foster sympathy within the general public for the aims of these protesters. The movement which sprung up in the wake of the Brown and Garner death cases has allowed an extremist fringe element to characterize it. If the protesters haven’t already completely lost the support of the majority of Americans who do not occupy themselves demonstrating in the streets, it will not be long before they do.