Hours before the wake of slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos Friday, a small plane pulling a pro-police banner flew above the Hudson River from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge, the pilot said.
The aircraft, out of Hillsborough, New Jersey, made five passes back and forth with a banner that read "DE BLASIO, OUR BACKS HAVE TURNED TO YOU," pilot Ashley Chalmers told Newsday.
It took about three days to get everything together to fly the banner, said Chalmers, who is owner and pilot for Jersey Shore Aerial Advertising.
Chalmers, who said it cost $1,000 to fly the banner, would not disclose who paid. A police union official said his group didn't pay for the flight but still supported it.
"It was neither funded nor sanctioned by this union but the message certainly reflects the sentiment of law enforcement," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.
Palladino was referring to a week ago when scores of officers turned their backs on de Blasio while he walked past them at the Brooklyn hospital where Ramos and officer Wenjian Liu were brought after being shot.
Former NYPD Officer and current blogger John Cardillo wrote Friday that he was contacted by a coalition of officers and asked to disseminate a message after Chalmers' plane was aloft.
"As a large and unified group of current and retired NYC Police Officers, Detectives, & Supervisors," Cardillo's message read, "we are outraged by the mayor's incendiary rhetoric, and for facilitating the current hostile climate towards the NYPD."
A de Blasio spokesman said "this is a time to think about the families and honor our fallen officers. 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."
With Matthew Chayes