De Blasio's statement must be understood by protesters and black people nationwide as a further attempt by the political establishment to delegitimize and thus finally nip this still budding national movement.
De Blasio's unprecedented call fits in nicely with the narratives voiced uniformly by police everywhere immediately in the shooting's aftermath, beginning with NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. The shooting was a “direct spinoff of this issue of these demonstrations,” Bratton told the New York Post.
“I think it’s a time for everyone to put aside political debates,” said de Blasio, according to NBC News. We all should “put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time. So I would ask that any organizations that were planning events or gatherings that are about politics and protest—that could be for another day.” His remarks were made at a luncheon of the Police Athletic League on Monday, December 22.
De Blasio actually offered a schedule or timetable when protests could resume – after the officers’ funerals this coming weekend.
Even before de Blasio made his comments, however, police departments across the country had begun feverishly searching for telltale dots to connect the shooting, the protests, and the shooter. None were found.
The New York Post reported that Devon Coley, 18, has been charged with making a terroristic threat after allegedly posting a picture of someone shooting into a police car, with the caption “73Next.” The police read this as Brooklyn's 73rd Precinct.
The Chicopee, Massachusetts, Police Department has charged a man for posting the phrase “put wings on pigs”—a phrase allegedly used by the shooter—on Instagram. A department spokesman was quoted in local media as saying that, “In the eyes of every police officer in America today, ‘Putting wings on pigs’ is a threat.”
De Blasio has obviously succumbed to heavy pressure from the NYPD and the media, both of which have relentlessly and loudly denounced even his early tepid support and vague sympathy for the protests. “There is blood on many hands, from those that incited violence under the guise of protest to try to tear down what police officers do every day,” said Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, on Sunday. “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.”
And, of course, on Saturday, the day of the shooting, dozens of police officers turned their backs to de Blasio as he conducted a presser at the hospital where the officers were died.
And then there is the always highly toxic former New York City Mayor and failed GOP presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani. He raised the ante of “responsibility” for the cops killings by adding President Obama to the blame-game. According to Giuliani, Obama had actively encouraged protesters to get violent against police.
The New York Post – again -- reported Sunday that a widely-circulated email among police officers actually declared a thinly disguised war against black people generally and the protesters specifically: “We have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ Police Department… We will act accordingly,” announced the email.
At his press conference, reporters concentrated their questions to de Blasio on the few protesters who actually did label police as murderers and racists. Rather than re-direct the questioning to the murderer or the murdered cops, de Blasio took the bait and said such comments were “unacceptable.”
On the surface, De Blasio's call for a moratorium may appear reasonable, the decent and civil thing to do. But if we dig just beneath the surface it is apparent that this is a capitulation.
“The few who do not represent the majority, who are saying unacceptable things, who shouldn’t be saying those things... everyone must participate in finding those individuals, providing information to the police... alerting the police. There are some bad people who say inappropriate things, who say hateful things... they have no place in these protests.”
On the surface, De Blasio's call for a moratorium may appear reasonable, the decent and civil thing to do. But if we dig just beneath the surface it is apparent that this is a capitulation, an unseemly tradeoff and dirty deal with the devil which serves only to help him get into the good graces of the police by essentially repudiating his earlier statements. De Blasio is now attempting to demonstrate an obsequious loyalty to the police department. Indeed, at that same presser, to hammer home this point, de Blasio trumpeted the fact that as part of his “reform” package for the department, he had already approved hundreds of millions in additional funding in recent months. “Actions speak louder than words,” he declared.
But de Blasio went even further. He called on New Yorkers to join him in “protecting” police officers, saying, “We as citizens have an obligation to join in protecting our police just as they protect us. People are always struggling in a democracy to understand how they can contribute to making things better. So, I can tell you...show respect and support for our police.”
Sounds a lot like the right wing's constant trope of “support our troops,” doesn't it?
Meanwhile, cops throughout this nation-state have been placed on high alert. The Associated Press notes that NYPD unions have issued specific warnings to cops to “respond to every radio call with two cars—‘no matter what the opinion of the patrol supervisor.’”
There is no evidence linking the killer to the protests.
His family confirmed that he has suffered from mental illness since childhood, and that he attempted suicide as recently as last year.
His Internet posts threatened to “put wings on pigs” as revenge for the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island: “They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs,” he wrote. But, again, there is no evidence of any connection between the shooter and the protests in Ferguson or New York.
And the beat goes on. De Blasio’s presser came hard on the heels of an announcement by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm Monday that Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney would not be charged for killing an unarmed homeless man Dontre Hamilton in April.
Chisholm, it seems, had provoked a confrontation with Hamilton as he slept, shooting him 14 times. This was after other officers had already decided that Chisholm was no threat to anyone and left him alone. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker called up the National Guard over the weekend, while Milwaukee police arrested 74 at a demonstration Saturday. “We are currently making preparations to stage National Guard members and will be ready to respond rapidly if needed,” Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr told the Journal Sentinel.
Finally, since when does a protest movement consult with, let alone accede to the timetable of those against whom it is protesting? On the contrary, this movement must not rest and must not retreat. It must not take even the slightest respite. It may acknowledge the two cops' deaths – but within the context and during the continuing protests. The protests must continue to make white racist cops and white supremacists even more uncomfortable. Their comfort zones of harassing, beating, arresting, and killing black people have been exposed. Now is not the time to relent and thus allow them breathing room in which to retrench and reconnoiter for their already declared war.
De Blasio should therefore not call for a moratorium in the fight against police violence. Rather, he and all other political and police leaders throughout this nation-state should demand a permanent moratorium on excessive police force, police brutality, mass arrests, police violence, and police murder of black people.