Thousands of police officers gathered in New York for the funeral of a slain comrade on Sunday, but dozens ignored an appeal not to protest against Mayor Bill de Blasio by turning their back on the city leader.
A sea of blue uniformed officers crowded around a Brooklyn funeral home to honor Wenjian Liu, 32, shot in the head with partner Rafael Ramos, 40, on December 20 as the pair sat in their patrol car.
The brutal double-slaying at the hands of a black gunman claiming to be avenging the deaths of African-Americans during confrontations with police shocked the nation's largest city.
The build-up to Liu's funeral had been dominated by speculation over whether officers would stage a repeat of their protest at Ramos's service last week, when hundreds turned their back on de Blasio.
The vast majority of police crowded around the Aievoli Funeral Home appeared to respect the call not to protest issued by New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
However, photos on Twitter clearly showed dozens of officers turning away from giant screens erected outside the funeral home showing de Blasio addressing mourners.
A city 'heartbroken'
De Blasio paid tribute to Liu's "courage, sacrifice and kindness" as he honored the police officer.
"All of our city is heartbroken today," de Blasio said.
"Detective Wenjian Liu was a good man. He walked a path of courage, a path of sacrifice, and a path of kindness. This is who he was, and he was taken from us much too soon."
De Blasio said Liu, who had moved to America from China as a child, represented an embodiment of the fabled American dream.
"Detective Liu's story is such a powerful American story. It is such a classic New York story," he said.
"A young man who came here from China with his parents at the age of 12 in search of the American dream, in search of the dream that generations have come to New York to find."
Liu's funeral had been delayed so that relatives could arrive from China to pay their respects. Members of his shattered family also spoke on Sunday.
Liu and Ramos were shot dead by a gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who appeared to have a clear anti-police bias. He shot his ex-girlfriend on December 20 before carrying out the double murder.
Shortly before targeting Liu and Ramos, Brinsley boasted on Instagram that he intended to attack officers and referenced two unarmed black men killed by police.
De Blasio has ridden a firestorm of criticism in the wake of the shootings from political opponents and police union members.
The resentment flared at Ramos's funeral when officers turned their backs as de Blasio spoke.
Bratton had urged officers not to repeat the protest at Liu's service, arguing that it deflected attention away from the focus of the funeral.
"A hero's funeral is about grieving, not grievance," Bratton wrote in a memo to 34,000 New York police officers.
Some officers have been highly critical of de Blasio for remarks about police relations with black Americans that they say incited the shooting.
They remain angered, in particular, over de Blasio's statement that he counsels his biracial son to be particularly careful around police officers.
Date created : 2015-01-04