A singer donned a NYPD T-shirt on stage. Well-wishers delivered home-baked cookies by the hundreds to police in Cincinnati. In Mooresville, N.C., police and sheriff’s officers were treated by residents to a chili dinner.
At a time when many in the nation’s police community feel embattled, Americans in cities and towns across the country are making an effort to express support and gratitude. The surge is linked to two distinct but overlapping developments.
The immediate catalyst was the killings of two New York City police officers as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday. For many of those making appreciative gestures, there also was a desire to counter the recent protests — steeped with criticism of police and often accompanied by violence.
Rallies and vigils in support of police have taken place recently around the country. Among those gathering Monday night in Nashville was Merri Puckett, a retired police officer.
“The police are really taking a hard hit right now,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the officers out there are doing a good job, and it’s a thankless job and they need to know that the public supports them.”
In Minden, Nev., there was a one-man rally in support of local officers. John Munk, a retired sheriff’s deputy, stood in front of the post office with a sign reading, “G-d Bless Law Enforcement.”
“It’s disheartening how people are treating law enforcement across the country,” Munk said. “I wanted to do this to show what a great community we have here.”
In New York’s bustling Times Square, several officers reported that people on the street were shouting out words of encouragement — a sound they weren’t hearing before the weekend killings.
“It’s uplifting,” said one officer, who — under NYPD rules — was not supposed to do media interviews while on street duty.
For the moment, the cop killings has somewhat muted the long-running protest campaign. Mayor Bill de Blasio asked to postpone all protests until after the officers’ funerals.
However, a coalition of groups involved in those protests has signaled they will persevere.
“We continue to see elected officials and police leadership twist this tragedy into an opportunity for them to silence the cries for justice from families who have lost their loved ones to police violence,” said the coalition, which includes Ferguson Action and Youth United for Change. “Our families matter, too.”
Several hundred people marched in Manhattan chanting “I can’t breathe” and held signs saying “Jail Killer Cops.”