Members of the NYPD apparently were so outraged by the city’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, wearing what the police force believed were jeans to the funeral of slain police officer Wenjian Liu over the weekend that they spread venom directed at her “disrespect” in text messages and on social media. The only problem: Her pantsuit wasn’t made of denim.
The anger directed at McCray comes at a tense time in the relations between City Hall and the police force. For the past two weeks, the department has been acting out in a prolonged temper tantrum directed at Mayor de Blasio because of his statement in support of the protesters angry at the killing of Black men, including a work stoppage that has seen officers across the city refusing to make arrests and write tickets—costing the city millions in revenue. In addition, cops turned their backs on de Blasio at the funerals for both of the slain officers.
It hasn’t been lost on many in the Black community that the last time the police force showed this much disrespect to a mayor was when a Black man was in City Hall—David Dinkins, the city’s first Black mayor. Now the office is occupied by a mayor with a Black wife and biracial children.
In fact, the nastiness swirling across the city directed at McCray got so bad that City Hall was forced to issue a statement explaining that she wasn’t wearing jeans.
“The dark pantsuit the First Lady wore to Detective Liu’s funeral was somber and appropriate,” said Rebecca Katz, a de Blasio spokesman.
“We should be talking about Detective Liu and his family, not fabric and fashion,” Katz added, according to the New York Daily News.
It was likely a first coming out of the City Hall press office, a statement discussing the pants of the mayor’s wife.
The vitriol apparently started hours after the Sunday service, with emails flying around the city containing pictures of the offending pantsuit.
“We found it disrespectful,” an unidentified officer told the paper.
The News went out and found the designer of McCray’s pantsuit, Anni Kuan, described as one of McCray’s favorites. Kuan said that although the outfit with matching blazer might look like jeans in pictures, it’s actually a polyester-rayon blend.
“It’s a very respectful suit you would wear to an important gathering,” Kuan said. “It’s not made of jean at all.”
“It’s polished and elegant,” Kuan added.
These were some of the comments posted on Twitter leveled at McCray:
“The NYC Mayor’s “wife” couldn’t find anything decent to wear so threw on a pair of jeans for the police officers funeral. #noclass,” wrote @TejasGooner, who for some reason felt it necessary to put the word “wife” in quotes.
“Nothing says disrespect like rocking jeans to a cops funeral,” said another tweet.
Even the nationally syndicated radio host Howie Carr dedicated an entire show on Tuesday to the jeans scandal, with one caller saying, “These people have no shame,” according to the News.
The entire affair has a sleazy, inappropriate feel to it. One can’t help but wonder if those attacking the mayor’s African-American wife for the perceived fashion faux pas are motivated by more than the fabric used to make her pants.