A sea of blue flooded the streets around a Queens church Saturday morning — thousands of police waiting to pay respects for one of two New York officers who lost their lives in the line of duty last weekend.
More than 25,000 police officers are expected at Christ Tabernacle church in the Glendale neighborhood for the funeral of Rafael Ramos, the New York City police officer murdered one week ago.
A funeral service and procession for Ramos, 40, will start at 10 a.m. at the church, where he was a 14-year member. A police honor guard took his casket into the church.
Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio are among those in attendance.
Vice president’s eulogy
“I’m sure I speak for the whole nation when I say our hearts ache for you,” Biden told the family during the service.
He noted how an expected 25,000 officers were surrounding the church in solemnity and added how they “will stand with you for the rest of your life.
“Its an uncommon fraternity,” Biden said.
Biden referred to how Ramos — known to those close to him as Ralph — was gunned down December 20 along with fellow Officer Wenjian Liu as they sat parked in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The pair were assassinated, according to Bratton, simply because of the uniform they wore.
“Today we pay tribute to Officer Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu,” Biden said.
About police officers, he said: “Thank God for them.”
“Amen,” some in the church said.
“This is the finest police department in the world,” Biden added, drawing applause.
He added that the bullets that targeted the officers also “targeted the city, and (they) touched the soul of an entire nation.”
Governor leads applause
Cuomo then led the congregation in delivering a round of applause to the Ramos family.
Cuomo noted the local protesters who have taken strong exception to police conduct and the recent killings of unarmed black men nationwide.
Cuomo praised the professionalism of the NYPD officers at those protests.
“The NYPD protected the right of free speech even though they were targets of false and abusive tirades,” the governor said.
He also noted threats against police.
“The threats against the New York police are insults to the law-abiding and won’t be tolerated,” Cuomo said, adding that the National Guard “has your back every step of your way.”
Television monitors and loudspeakers will broadcast the service to the crowds packing the streets outside. The church posted a stream of photographs of Ramos’ on YouTube.
The service began with a young woman the church identified as Mia Hunt-Pierce singing the national anthem. Police outside stood at attention. The church choir then sang, “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
A couple of officers booed when de Blasio arrived to the service. Some protest signs were shown, but they were small displays. Those unwelcoming expressions apparently bore on de Blasio’s criticism of police following the two officers’ murders.
Ramos — known to those close to him as Ralph — was gunned down December 20 along with fellow Officer Wenjian Liu as they sat parked in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The pair were assassinated, according to Bratton, simply because of the uniform they wore.
The body of the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, was found at a subway station shortly after the slayings. He had shot himself.
Ramos leaves a wife, Maritza, and sons Justin and Jaden, the latter of whom recounted how he had to say goodbye to his father in an emotional Facebook post.
“(H)e was the best father I could ask for,” Jaden wrote after the shooting. “It’s horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad.”
Justin, the older brother, spoke at his father’s wake at the church Friday, according to CNN affiliate NY 1.
“My father was a man of character. He was a selfless man,” the college sophomore said. “He always went above and beyond for his family, constantly putting everyone before himself. Dad, I’m forever grateful for the sacrifices you made to provide for me and Jaden.”
His pastor, the Rev. Rafael Castillo, said his death was a loss for the church.
“He was a man of great faith, and his faith informed his worldview, not just as a police officer, but as a husband and as a father,” Castillo said. “And as I’ve been saying, we are going to miss him a great deal.”