City Paper is not for tourists
LL also attended this morning’s memorial service, organized by the local Fraternal Order of Police, for fallen officers from local departments. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty arrived very shortly before the ceremony, pressed the flesh with the assembled brass, and avoided any confrontation, near as LL could see. Fenty handled a tricky situation with a lot of class.
Background: The day prior, the FOP sent a letter to Chief Cathy Lanier saying Fenty’s “presence will not be welcome and will not be by invitation” and that Hizzoner “does not respect the sacrifices made by members of the law enforcement community on a daily basis.”
During the ceremony, the only mention of Fenty’s name came from a member of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police brass, who briefly thanked him in the course of paying tribute to a fallen officer from her force. Fenty sat quietly front row center as bagpipes droned out “Auld Lang Syne.”
After the service, Fenty left the room, met reporters outside, read a statement and refused to take any additional questions (something he rarely does—-usually, he takes questions and just repeats the same talking points over and over again).
In the statement, Fenty paid tribute to “the grace, the professionalism, and the dignity of this ceremony” and recognized the “the hard grief that goes to any family member who has lost someone in the line of duty.” To D.C. police and officers from other jurisdictions, Fenty said, “my continued condolences, my support for all of your efforts—-you are true heroes.” That was it—-short and simple.
Then the press corps headed over to FOP president Marcello Muzzatti, who wasn’t quite so reserved. Asked about Fenty’s decision to appear, he said, “That was his prerogative to come if he wanted to. I think we made our point. I think the message got out.”
LL asked Muzzatti whether it was appropriate to inject politics into such a solemn occasion. “Absolutely not,” Muzzatti retorted. “The issue was injected yesterday. Today is about the memorial service….The membership wanted to make a statement to the mayor and they did yesterday. And that was yesterday.”
That line of reasoning falls pretty damn short, LL thinks, when yesterday’s politics means that today the entire local media corps shows up to cover the feud.
Fenty’s full statement after the jump.
UPDATE, 4:38 P.M.: Kristopher Baumann, head of the FOP’s bargaining unit, calls in to draw a distinction between the “lodge”—-headed by Muzzatti—-and the “union,” which he heads. LL was imprecise is saying that Fenty had outclassed the “union.”
Fenty’s statement: “I thought that this was a tremendous ceremony. I thought that the grace, the professionalism, and the dignity of this ceremony as put on is a real tribute not only to the men and women who put it together, not only to Chief Lanier and her great command staff, but to the hardworking men and women of not just the Metropolitan Police Department but all of the police departments that serve this region. Anyone who sat through this ceremony saw not only the honor, the tribute, the professionalism, and the class, and hard work of this organization but most importantly the hard grief that goes to any family member who has lost someone in the line of duty. So to all the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department and the departments of our surrounding region, as mayor of the District of Columbia, my continued condolences, my support for all of your efforts—-you are true heroes. Thank you all very much.”