Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday delivered a heartfelt eulogy for NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, who was shot dead "execution style" by a man who posted on social media that he wanted revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
"The time will come when Rafael’s memory will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eyes," Biden told Ramos' family. "I speak for the whole nation when I say our hearts ache for you."
"Being a cop was not what they did, it was who they were; like every man and woman in uniform here today. It’s who you are," the vice president added. "And they like every one of you in uniform inside this church and outside, you all joined for essentially the same reason. There was something about you that made you think you could help, that you should serve, that you had a duty."
Biden continued: "I have spoken at too many funerals for too many peace officers, too many funerals for brave women and men who kept us safe and watched their families grieve. And I’ve observed one thing that unfortunately, it’s only when a tragedy like this occurs that all their friends, neighbors, and people who didn't even know them become of aware of and reminded of the sacrifices they make every single, solitary day to make our lives better."
The funeral, which was held in Queens, was attended by thousands of police officers and city officials, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Police union officials have spoken critically of President Barack Obama and de Blasio for delivering remarks they saw as contributing to a climate of mistrust toward police in the wake of national protests over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.
According to CNN, several officers booed when de Blasio arrived to the service, and some protest signs were shown. Photos shared on social media also showed police officers turning their backs on the mayor.
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During his remarks, de Blasio called Ramos a "hero" and praised the police department.
"Our hearts are aching today. I feel it physically, I feel it deeply," de Blasio said. "New York City has lost a hero, a remarkable man because of the depth of this commitment to those all around him. On behalf of all of us, I extend my condolences. I extend my condolences to the NYPD that is hurting so deeply right now, as their families feel loss as well."
Funeral plans haven't yet been announced for Ramos' partner, Officer Wenjian Liu, who was also shot dead last week.
Read a longer excerpt from Biden's speech below:
When you patrol the streets of New York, you circle the Earth; a six-story walk-up, apartment towers, aromas of a million kitchens continuing thousands of traditions; streets full of silence, streets bursting with hundreds languages -– whispering. Laughing. Shouting.
An intimidating city. A city of others. A city of labels and borders and seemingly unbridgeable gaps, a city constantly grappling with issues as old as the nation and as new as the morning headlines.
Yet in every neighborhood in this great city, this most alive of all cities, this chaotic miracle stands as a beacon to the world in no small part because of the sacrifices that the New York Police Department makes every single day.
So when an assassin’s bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of the entire nation -- a city where the son of a Chinese immigrant shared a patrol with a Hispanic minister in training; a city where a single ride on a subway brings you into contact with more people, more lives than many people in this country will encounter in an entire lifetime; a city that educated a young college student with a mother from Kansas, and a father from Kenya who would one day stand before the nation and declare: This is not a black America or a white America or a Latino America or an Asian America; this is the United States of America. (Applause.)
And for those of us who are not New Yorkers, we look at you in awe because this is the united city of New York as well; a city that rose as one to confront two of the greatest disasters of this century -- one from the evils of terrorism on 9/11 and one from the fury of nature in Superstorm Sandy.
This is a city of courage and character, having faced and overcome the toughest challenges and I’m absolutely confident as you are that spirit is still alive and well in this city. And I’m absolutely confident it will guide you in the days and weeks ahead.
I believe that this great police force, and this incredibly diverse city can and will show the nation how to bridge any divide. You’ve done it before. And you will do it again. Because, to paraphrase the words of William Allen White, you are not afraid of tomorrow, because you’ve seen yesterday and because you love today.