Hundreds gathered on Saturday in Staten Island, N.Y., to honor the New York Police Department and their daily sacrifice to ensure the public’s safety, and many attendees blasted the media for their negative coverage of the police.
The pro-police rally came a month after the widely publicized anti-police rally in Staten Island organized by MSNBC Host and activist Rev. Al Sharpton. That rally was focused on the death of Eric Garner, who died when officers tried to arrest him.
Citizens in Support for All Law Enforcement Agencies organized Saturday’s rally. Retired Police Detective Ken Petersen, one of the event’s organizers, said the rally was "to show support to the police department who I don’t feel have gotten a fair shake."
"When someone does something wrong, or is believed to do something wrong, it’s front-page news for a month, without knowing what happened," he said, adding officers "don’t get honored or respected."
Those in the crowd were frustrated with the mainstream media’s coverage of the NYPD.
"We back the police," said Arthur Clark, standing with his wife, Catherine. "They put their lives on the line for us."
"We’re basically here to support the police department," said Joe Delfino, of the Staten Island Harley Owners Group. "They been getting a bum rap recently and getting no respect."
Some traveled from nearby boroughs to show their support for the men in blue.
"They need the support. The press cooks their tushes all the time," said Jean Ryan, who came from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Many in the crowd wore NYPD hats and shirts. Several carried signs that read, "We (heart) the NYPD."
During the event, the final "roll call" of 11 officers killed in the line of duty from Staten Island was conducted, and after each name was read, Peterson called out, "not present."
The officers honored were: James Nemorin, Rodney Andrews, James Leahy, Henry Walburger, Thomas Schimenti, Rocco Laurie, Joe Garcia, John Kelly, Gerard Carter, Matthew Dziergowski, John Kelly, and Rusel Timoshenko.
Maria Dziergowski, whose husband Officer Matthew was killed in 1999, said police officers "perform extraordinary acts of braveness every day and we’re not reminded of that."
A bagpiper played taps, then a moment of silence was held for fallen police officers across the state and country.
Several local lawmakers spoke at the event including Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, Rep. Michael Grimm, and Assemblyman Joseph Borelli.
"Do we love the NYPD?" Rep. Grimm called out. The crowd shouted, "Yes."
"When a hero falls in the line of duty, everyone can imagine what that does to the immediate family of the officer," Grimm said. But he spoke of families who worry every day when their loved ones put on the uniform.
"For all those other families who have to kiss their loved ones good-bye—don’t you think they’re wondering whether or not their loved one is going to come home that day?" Grimm asked. He said the NYPD’s "brave men and women have to make a split decision." He said in a crisis they have to make a judgment call and "they do the best they can."
"Don’t be so quick to judge unless you’re in their shoes," Grimm said.
Assemblyman Cuscik pointed out Staten Island is a big community and "every time a police officer puts on that uniform, the immediate family hopes and prays that day for good."
The New York Post endorsed the rally days before. "The event will be a welcome antidote to all the bad press following Eric Garner’s death while resisting arrest—including the Rev. Sharpton’s ugly anti-police rally last month."
"Fact is, despite the impression left by loudmouth NYPD critics, biased news coverage and a mayor who seems to think cops are the enemy, more New Yorkers give our police a thumbs-up than down," the Post wrote.
Even though the Staten Island event was a pro-police rally many officers were still reluctant to speak to the media. Seven NYPD officers approached by the Washington Free Beacon refused to give comment.