More than 25,000 New York City police officers gathered outside Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens on Saturday for the funeral of slain officer Rafael Ramos, who was killed one week ago in an ambush-like attack with his partner, Wenjian Liu. Vice President Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were in attendance on Saturday, each giving an eulogy for the 40-year-old officer. Police Commissioner William Bratton posthumously made Ramos an honorary chaplain, and promoted him and Liu to detective first grade.
The mayor's presence was not unexpected, but it certainly heightened the tension among police leadership, who have been critical of de Blasio and his support for the Black Lives Matter movement over the last month. The police unions have also tried barring the mayor from attending NYPD funerals, making de Blasio's appearance here fraught with uneasiness and anger for some.
But de Blasio tried to repair the fractured relationship between the city government and its police force on Saturday, calling the NYPD "the finest police force in the country" and addressing the wide-ranging grief currently plaguing his city. "Our hearts are aching today," de Blasio said. "New York City has lost a hero, a remarkable man, because of his commitment to all around him."
The mayor continued:
I extend my condolences to another family, the family of the NYPD, which is hurting so deeply these days. ... I want to thank the law enforcement officers from all over this nation who have come here to honor Officer Ramos. .. All of this city is grieving and grieving for so many reasons, but the most personal is we’ve lost such a good man and a family is in such pain.
Yet hundreds of NYPD officers weren't ready to forgive de Blasio for what they considered "anti-police" comments and a general ill-will toward law enforcement. According to various media accounts, many police officers continued their silent protest of the mayor on Saturday, turning their backs on de Blasio. The officers symbolically snubbed the mayor when he approached the podium to eulogize Ramos, which was broadcast to the crowd outside on an over-sized screen. The silent protests come days after Bratton told the media the New York police unions would be "standing down," pulling back on their harsh actions and inciting words against the mayor.
Some civilians and officers waiting in the crowd outside the church also held signs saying, "Dump De Blasio" and "God Bless The NYPD."
A visibly distraught Biden spoke directly to Ramos' widow, Margarita, saying he had personal experience with tragedy (Biden himself was a widower at a young age). "There is little anyone can do or say at this moment to ease the pain," Biden told Margarita. He added that he hoped she could "take solace in the fact that 25,000 members of the same fraternity and sorority" of her husband were not only honoring him, but standing with the family.
The vice president continued:
There will come a time when Rafael’s memory will bring a smile to your lips instead of a tear to you eye. My prayer for you is that it will come sooner rather than later.
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