Like after 9/11 and Sandy, it’s time for unity | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Like after 9/11 and Sandy, it’s time for unity

It was encouraging to see Mayor de Blasio lead a moment of silence on Tuesday for slain Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

The patrol partners’ horrifying execution on Saturday in Bed-Stuy by a deranged gunman sent a shockwave through the city — and the nation — one which continues to reverberate.

As the leader of the city, it is up to the mayor to be strong at this moment and send the message that he is not an advocate, but a leader.

He is right to call for a timeout from the protests that have been roiling the city and snarling traffic. Frankly, the protesters’ message has been conveyed at this point.

Yes, the verdict in the Eric Garner case was stunning, particularly given the video showing Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Garner in a chokehold. But the story continues, as the New York Post and the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, push to bring all the grand jury proceedings to light. And the federal investigation is ongoing.

“There’s a lot of pain right now,” de Blasio said on Tuesday. “We have to work our way through that pain. We have to keep working to bring police and community closer together. We have to work for that more perfect union. We have to put the divisions of the past behind us. They were left to all of us in this generation, and we have to overcome them. 

“We need to protect and respect our police just as our police protect and respect our communities,” the mayor said. “We can strike that balance. We must.”

Those were the right words for the mayor to say, and they needed to be said.

At the same time, Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association police union needs to tone down his rhetoric. Everyone on all sides must stop piling on.

In short, it’s time for the city to come together.

We came together after the 9/11 attacks that killed thousands and leveled the World Trade Center. We did it after Superstorm Sandy, too. Now once again is the time for all of us as one common people — one city — to overcome a deep problem we are facing.

If there is any rally or march at this point, it should have one theme only: peace and unity. Enough of the endless marches, of blocking traffic. And enough of the pro-police rallies with people wearing T-shirts saying, “I can breathe” (in a twisted take on Garner’s last words).

The Internet — while showing us what happened to Garner — is also allowing protesters to keep their actions going…and going, plus inflaming passions and emboldening sick individuals, as we saw with the two officers’ shooter, who bragged online about what he was about to do.

On the other hand, body cameras for police officers will provide more video evidence that can be used to help protect both cops and those whom they are arresting. More information is always helpful.

In addition to embracing peace and unity, people need to start working on these thorny issues more constructively. Just marching around and playing cat-and-mouse with police will not achieve any long-term results. We saw that with Occupy Wall Street, which started out encouragingly by calling our attention to the country’s growing income inequality, but then simply devolved into protesters marching around and clashing with cops. Again, if you want to change the system, you’ve got to enact systematic reforms. Think: “Big picture.”

Sadly, in the current climate, while uniformed police officers were arresting a youth on East Broadway for alleged assault last Friday, they were joined by a plainclothes cop who took some quick punches at the suspect while he was being cuffed. It was all caught on video. That kind of police violence is precisely part of the problem.

After the two officers’ murder on Saturday, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, we felt, put it best: “In the face of such senseless violence, we should calm down the rhetoric and work together to find a way to create a safer and more peaceful city.”

Amen.