A group of retired and current NYPD officers say they flew a banner along the Hudson River Friday that said "de Blasio, our backs have turned to you" in protest of the mayor's policies toward the department.
The small banner, which traveled up and down the Hudson River Friday morning, was paid for by officers upset over what they called "the mayor’s incendiary rhetoric, and for facilitating the current hostile climate towards the NYPD."
The plane made several passes between Battery Park and the George Washington Bridge at about 9 a.m.
In a statement released Friday morning, the group of officers condemned the mayor for his comments about worrying about the safety of his interracial son at the hands of police following a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict an officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. They said de Blasio's comments fanned flames of civil unrest following the grand jury decision
"potentially to the deaths of PO Wenjian Liu and PO Rafael Ramos, as well as the continued threats against NYPD personnel."
"We no longer have confidence in Mayor de Blasio, nor in his ability to lead New York City and promote the values that both the NYPD and the good law abiding citizens of the city hold dear," the officers said. "Mayor de Blasio turned his back on us long before we turned our backs on him."
The flight of the banner comes six days after Ramos and Liu were gunned down in their patrol car in Brooklyn by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who posted his intent to kill police on Instagram and committed suicide in a nearby subway station after he ambushed the officers.
Police unions were fiercely critical of the mayor in the days leading up to and following the officers’ deaths. The president of the city’s largest police union, Patrick Lynch, said after the shootings "there’s blood on many hands" and explicitly blamed de Blasio for the violence.
Some police officers turned their backs to the mayor when he arrived at the hospital where their two colleagues were taken after they were shot.
Asked about the banner flown Friday, de Blasio Deputy Press Secretary Wiley Norvell called for unity.
"This is a time to think about the families and honor our fallen officers," Norvell said in a statement. "Dividing people won't help our city heal. We'll continue to stand with responsible New Yorkers who are doing the right thing in a time of pain."