Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Comments on Shootings Draw Criticism From Police Union

By Mara Gay and Zolan Kanno-Youngs 
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday decried the police shootings this week of black men in two U.S. cities, reigniting criticism from a police union official who questioned the mayor’s backing of law enforcement.

“No parent of color, or parent of a child of color in this country, can watch that and not be afraid,” said Mr. de Blasio, speaking about videos in connection with the fatal shootings of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn., and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La.

“You fear for the life of a child when you see a situation like this because it’s inexplicable,” said Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat.

Sgt. Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, one of New York City’s police unions, said the mayor had gone too far with his remarks.

“He’s lost his mind again,” Mr. Mullins said of the mayor. “It’s inappropriate again for the mayor to do what he’s doing.”

Mr. Mullins’s criticism was reminiscent of union officials’ complaints about the mayor in 2014. Then, many officers were angered when Mr. de Blasio said he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, who is black, had to train their biracial son on how to interact with the police.

Soon after Mr. de Blasio made those remarks, thousands of officers turned their back on the mayor at the funerals of two police officers who were killed in the line of duty.

On Thursday evening, a crowd of about 300 gathered in Union Square to protest the shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana. Police were out in force as demonstrators held up their arms and yelled “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

Many in the crowd chanted antipolice chants. One man walked around saying, “Peace to police.”

Many held signs displaying the names of Delrawn Small, who authorities say was shot and killed by an officer after a road-rage incident in Brooklyn, as well as Messrs. Sterling and Castile.

A law-enforcement official said 36 people were arrested as protests spread in the city Thursday. This figure included 35 people at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street who staged a sit-in in the street, the official said.

M. Scott Johnson, 46 years old, of Ridgewood, Queens, said he saw the news of the shootings and felt compelled to bring his 10-year-old son, Stone, and 6-year-old daughter, Amihan, to Union Square.

“The recent violence is just enough, man,” Mr. Johnson said. “It’s just enough.”

On Thursday, Mr. de Blasio didn’t pass judgment on the shooting death of Mr. Small in New York. “We don’t know what happened yet,” he said. “We really don’t.”

But he spoke at length about the other shootings, wading into territory that has been politically fraught for him in New York. “This is not what America is supposed to be,” he said. “We are watching time and time again, it’s almost always a young man of color.”

Mr. Mullins said Thursday that he believes Mr. de Blasio is concerned about his 2017 re-election bid. “His comments are really designed for his base,” he said.

The mayor said he had deep respect for law enforcement, and said there are also “thousands of times every day where our officers come to the defense and the protection of young men of color.”

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