Top aides to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reportedly urged his political allies to blast the city's police union and rank-and-file officers for turning their backs on the mayor during the funeral for one of two NYPD cops assassinated earlier this month.
The website DNAinfo.com reported Tuesday that members of de Blasio's government affairs staff began contacting Democratic state and city officials Monday asking them to publicly criticize Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.
While this was going on, the website reported, de Blasio himself was setting up a meeting with the heads of five police unions in an effort to repair a relationship that has been stretched close to a total breaking point in recent weeks.
"City Hall wanted me to blast the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for turning their backs on him," one legislator told the site. "They ... said they were calling all of us, and that it was our obligation to stand up defending the mayor." The legislator described the tenor of the call as being "because they were calling that we should do whatever they ask."
Another pol told DNAinfo that he did not feel pressured to speak out and did not agree with the police's gestures toward the mayor, but still felt it was "really inappropriate" for the mayor's team to make such a request.
"The mayor's people said that this had nothing to do with politics," one of the lawmakers added. "So I said, 'then what is the purpose of this call?'"
De Blasio spokesman Phil Walzak denied asking the lawmakers to "'attack' anyone," and claimed the calls were to encourage support for the murdered officers' families, a claim one of the politicians contacted called "preposterous" and "not reality."
Police officers were seen turning their backs on de Blasio during Saturday's funeral for Officer Rafael Ramos, who was ambushed and killed along with his partner Wenjian Liu Dec. 20 in Brooklyn by a gunman who made posts on his Instagram expressing a desire to kill officers in revenge for the July death of Eric Garner.
Garner, a Staten Island man, died after he was apparently placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer. Regular protests have occurred in New York City and around the country since a grand jury decided not to indict the officer involved in the confrontation.
PBA President Lynch said Tuesday's meeting with the mayor had ended with "no resolve", adding that "our thought here today is that actions speak louder than words and time will tell."