Two New York Police Department officers were ambushed last weekend by Ismaaiyl Brinsley after he had made threatening posts online, including references to high-profile cases of white police officers killing unarmed black men and a vow to put “wings on pigs.” After shooting the officers, Brinsley ran into a Brooklyn subway station and committed suicide.
The killings of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos have raised concerns in the already tense nationwide debate surrounding police conduct. Some key developments since the officers’ killings:
WAKE FOR SLAIN OFFICER
Thousands of uniformed police officers from New York and around the country gathered Friday at Ramos’ wake. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been criticized by the police union for his handling of protests critical of officers, briefly attended.
The viewing was held at the Christ Tabernacle Church in Queens, where Ramos’ body was brought in in a flag-draped casket and in full dress uniform.
Colleagues described Ramos as a selfless and compassionate man. Pastor Ralph Castillo said Ramos was a beloved member of the church. Ramos’ son Justin said he was “forever grateful of the sacrifices” Ramos made for him and his younger brother, Jaden. Officers gathered in the street viewed the remarks on giant television screens.
Ramos’ funeral is scheduled for Saturday. Vice-President Joseph Biden and de Blasio have said they’ll attend. Funeral plans for Liu haven’t been announced.
HELP FROM JETBLUE
JetBlue Airways Corp. flew 730 officers from law enforcement agencies across the country to New York for Ramos’ wake and funeral.
Spokesman Morgan Johnston said the New York-based airline committed to finding space for two officers per agency that wanted to send representatives. Johnston said officers travelled from police and sheriff’s departments big and small, departing from airports in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
AIRPLANE BANNER BLASTS MAYOR
An airplane hired by current and former police officers hauled a banner insulting de Blasio.
The banner, first spotted above the Hudson River around 9 a.m., read, “De Blasio, our backs have turned to you.” The sign evoked the New York Police Department officers and police union leaders who turned their backs to the mayor at a hospital last week after the officers were fatally shot.
Former police officer-turned-activist John Cardillo said hundreds of retired and current officers paid to have the banner flown.
A de Blasio spokesman condemned the banner, saying, “Dividing people won’t help our city heal.”
RALLIES, FOR AND AGAINST POLICE
A Cleveland police dispatcher who organized a rally scheduled for Saturday in support of officers and invited 500 friends to it says thousands of people plan to attend.
Mary Jo Graves decided last Sunday to organize the Sea of Blue Support rally on Cleveland’s Public Square by creating a page on Facebook and inviting her friends. She said Thursday that more than 54,000 invites have been sent across the social media website and 4,000 people have indicated they plan to be there.
“I was hoping to get 100 people to stand with me at Public Square in support of officers, and it kind of blew up,” said Graves, who spent nearly 14 years as a Cleveland police dispatcher and the last six in suburban Brooklyn.
There have been protests across the country since grand juries declined to indict white police officers involved in the killings of two unarmed black men, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York. The fatal shooting of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was carrying a pellet gun has prompted numerous protests, including one that shut down a freeway at rush hour.
In Oakland, California, protesters smashed business windows on the edge of downtown and tore ornaments and lights from a large Christmas tree in a protest designed to keep police working on the holiday. The protest was called No Time Off.