While the funeral for slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos was a somber affair for the most part, the story of the day was hijacked by fellow police officers standing outside the Christ Tabernacle Church in Glendale, who spontaneously decided to turn their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio as he gave his eulogy. "I’ve got nothing personal against the man, but in solidarity I wanted to do it," Deputy Juan Guzman, of the Alexandria, Va., police, explained to the News. "So many out-of-state officers did it. It wasn’t planned. Everyone just started to do it."
The tens of thousands of officers who had come to pay their respects to Ramos, who was fatally shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn last weekend by a deranged man, were largely respectful. Yet hundreds of officers turned their backs to de Blasio when his face came up on the giant television screen outside the church. Sgt. Myron Joseph of the New Rochelle Police Department told ABC it was to "support our brothers in the NYPD."
Police union leaders, who have been actively blaming de Blasio for not defending cops in recent weeks (and previously demanded de Blasio not attend police funerals), confirmed to the Times that they had not organized this protest. You can see videos of the incident below:
Here's de Blasio's full speech:
"I extend my condolences to another family, the family of the N.Y.P.D. that is hurting so deeply right now," de Blasio said. The Times reported de Blasio seemed to withdraw into himself as he took the podium:
When it was his turn to speak, he approached the stage with his face downcast, and — finding the lectern too short for his liking — hunched his shoulders, as if trying to recede from his own imposing frame.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is typically a baroque public speaker. On Saturday, at the funeral of one of the police officers whose shooting deaths have roiled New York City, at times he spoke barely above a whisper.
At the most difficult time in his mayoralty, with his leadership questioned by police and protesters alike, Mr. de Blasio appeared to take pains to avoid standing out.
The Post described the mood outside the funeral: "Officers outside maintained a stony silence throughout the eulogy until de Blasio began to speak in Spanish, which prompted snickers."
The mayor's spokesperson gave this statement when asked about the incident: "The Ramos and Liu families, our police department and our city are dealing with an unconscionable tragedy. Our sole focus is unifying this city and honoring the lives of our two police officers."
Besides the back-turning, Ramos was honored with eulogies from Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton; he was also posthumously promoted to the rank of first-grade detective, and was named the honorary chaplain of the 84th Precinct, a position he had been training for in the months before his death.