Brooklyn had its very own Christmas tree lighting event in front of Borough Hall on Monday, and Borough President Eric Adams used the opportunity to promote unity between police and the community.
“We want to send a message throughout the entire borough and city that this tree lighting is done in celebratory fashion,” Adams said. “The only thing that should be divided between white, red and black are the tree lights, and not the people. We are one borough, one city, and that’s the message Borough Hall wants to continue to resonate from this building.”
After the tree was lit, Adams darkened the tree and held a moment of silence for Eric Garner and the police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty over the past year. There were 11 drum beats during the moment of silence to symbolize how many times Garner said, “I can’t breathe,” before he died, and then seven more beats to symbolize each officer who passed away in the line of duty in 2014.
“We want to commemorate a tree lighting ceremony that will hit home in a very personal way,” Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna said. “There is too much division. Let this holiday season be the season where we turn the page and see that justice throughout all of our communities is necessary for us to live a better life as one.”
Adams’ initial plan only called for 11 drum beats to symbolize Garner’s cries for help, and there was no plan to honor the officers. However, after the announcement was made, Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), raised concerns that lives of fallen police officers should be acknowledged as well, and suggested that drums be beat 80 times for each officer who has died in duty since 1999.
Adams, a former police officer, liked the idea, and invited Lynch to the ceremony.
“I called Pat Lynch early this morning,” Adams said. “I reached out to his office and said that I wanted to find out how we can bring all parties together. When he sent out his statement to honor the fallen officers, I said that I’m more than happy to do that, but I wanted to do this together to make a strong message. We need to all come together.”
Lynch did not respond to Adams’ request to join him in front of Borough Hall for the ceremony. Adams said he was disappointed that Lynch did not join him and added that he would like to see the police unions lead the way for reform.
“Their officers are at stake just like the lives of innocent people are at stake,” Adams said. “I think there is a good opportunity for him to say, ‘I don’t want any of my officers to lose their lives in the line of duty, and they shouldn’t have to go through the trauma of going through a trial, either.’ I’ve seen what happens to officers that go through that, and it is life changing for them and their families.”
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reached out to Pat Lynch and the PBA for comment on the ceremony, but no response was received by press time.