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Bill de Blasio Is Not the First New York City Mayor to Clash With Police Unions

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Reprinted from The Nation

From flickr.com/photos/31738902@N00/16069406695/: Cops tell de Blasio: Stay away from our funerals
Cops tell de Blasio: Stay away from our funerals
(Image by Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916)
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The leaflet was meant to highlight anger on the part of police officers with the mayor of New York. It encouraged officers to fill their names in on a document that read, "I, ..., a New York City police officer, want all of my family and brother officers who read this to know [that] in the event of my death [the mayor and his police commissioner should] be denied attendance of any memorial service in my honor as their attendance would only bring disgrace to my memory."

That's how deep the divisions ran.

Yes, "ran."

The leaflet mentioned above was distributed in 1997. The mayor in question was Rudolph Giuliani, and The New York Times reported on rank-and-file members of the powerful Patrolmen's Benevolent Association urging fellow officers to sign the documents. Though the union did not officially sanction the jab at the mayor, its circulation among officers "demonstrates the depths of their discontent," reported the Times in an article on a contract dispute in which Giuliani was taking a hard line against pay increases.

Today NYPD officers can download a similar document from the PBA website and sign it as one of many protests against Mayor Bill de Blasio's recognition of tensions between minority communities and the NYPD in the aftermath of a grand jury decision not to indict an officer who was videotaped choking Eric Garner shortly before the Staten Island man's death. Those protests drew national attention Saturday, as officers turned their backs on images of the mayor delivering a eulogy at the funeral service for NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, who was shot and killed a week earlier along with his partner, Wenjian Liu, in their squad car.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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