BY CAROL McILMURRAY
PHOTOS BY PHIL COSTA
NEW CITY- As tension over the recent execution style killing of NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjun Liu mounted in New York City, a “Moment of Silence” honoring the lost lives of the two officers was held on the Rockland County Courthouse lawn Sunday afternoon.
Hosted by the New City Fire Engine No. 1, speeches were made by County Executive Ed Day, and Matthew DeGennaro, a New City Fire Engine member and recently retired police officer from the 84th precinct, where the slain officers worked. Following the speeches, the crowd bowed their heads in silence at 2:47 p.m., marking the exact minute the two NYPD officers were shot down in their police vehicle.
DeGennaro, who personally knew both officers, recalled receiving the text message from his partner informing him that the two fallen officers were from his precinct.DeGennaro spoke of what it was like to know Officer “Joe” Liu, as he preferred to be called, and Ramos.
He spoke of Liu’s recent marriage two month earlier and Ramos’ impending graduation to become a pastor, stating, “These were two very loving guys.”
DeGennaro went on to recall what it has been like, “behind the doors of the 84th precinct, receiving an outpouring of support [from around the country]…. to receiving ambassador and prime ministers [in the station].” He said, “The 84th precinct is a resilient family…I am lucky to be a part of three families, the 84th precinct, the New City Fire Department, and my own family. God Bless Joe Liu and Rafael Ramos.”
The tone of memorial was solemn with a crowd of close to 300 gathered. Uniformed officers of the NYPD, Clarkstown PD, New City FD, and Theills FD all stood in respect to the fallen NYPD officers. Elected officials Clarkstown Supervisor Alex Gromack, Rockland Sherriff Lou Falco, and County Clerk Paul Piperato were also in attendance to remember the lives of the officers killed last weekend in cold blood by ambush attacker, Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
The NYPD promoted both officers to detectives posthumously. Officer Ramos’ body was laid to rest Saturday. Officer Liu’s burial has been set for Saturday, January 3, 2015.
Day, a former commander in the NYPD, noted the political dissentson between Mayor Bill De Blasio and police in New York City, stating, “Guardians of our society have come under attack….as a cop, I am angry.” He went on to say, “Today is not about that. Today is for healing..respect, and…for honor.”
Officer Briana Martinez, resident of Stony Point, and member of Newburg Police Department said, “I came to pay my respects, this could happen to anyone, anywhere….I am to support my big family in blue.”
At Ramos’ funeral thousands of NYPD officers turn their back to the mayor and he again received a cool reception at an NYPD graduation for new officers this week. De Blasio has been blamed by NYPD PBA President Pat Lynch and many others for fostering a hostile atmosphere toward police in the wake of the grand jury indictment exonerating police in the death of Eric Garner.
Oft-rowdy street protests in the tens of thousands hit the city following the ruling. De Blasio asked that protests cease until the burial of the NYPD officers, but some groups gathered anyway, further heightening tension.
De Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign was partly built on a theme of changing the city’s tactics of policing minority communities, particularly ending the stop and frisk policy.
As critics said De Blasio is responsible for undue racial tension and anti-police sentiment, a movement calling for his resignation has built steam. PBA President Pat Lynch went so far as to say De Blasio has “blood on his hands” in the killing of Ramos and Liu.