Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that tension between the city's top elected leaders and the police unions amid fallout from the Eric Garner case is "really breaking our civility."
"It's divisive. It's inappropriate," de Blasio said in an appearance before a national audience on ABC's "The View." "A few union leaders do not necessarily speak for the people who protect us everyday."
He was contrasting Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch with the 35,000 members of his union.
The PBA on Friday posted a "Don't Insult My Sacrifice" form letter on its website with officers who can demand de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito be banned from attending their funerals should they die in the line of duty.
Lynch said the letter was in response to de Blasio throwing NYPD officers "under the bus" in public statements -- including those about warning his biracial son, Dante, 17, to take caution in police encounters -- after a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner's death in July after an apparent chokehold.
In addition, other police union leaders, including Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, have blasted de Blasio's use of the word "allegedly" in describing a protest attack on police over the weekend.
Demonstrations that broke out in the city after the grand jury's decision Dec. 3 have been mostly peaceful, but clashes with police have led to arrests, and on Saturday one demonstrator was accused of assaulting police.
Eric Linsker, 29, of Brooklyn, was arrested and charged with assaulting two police lieutenants during a march Saturday night on the Brooklyn Bridge. Police officials are seeking six others who attacked officers.
De Blasio has implored the protesters demonstrating on city streets against police violence to respect the NYPD officers monitoring the events.
"You want to get your point across? Work with the police," de Blasio said.
The mayor also addressed a Siena College poll Friday that showed 48 percent of New Yorkers view race relations in the city as bad and 52 percent believe the city is on the wrong track. The survey showed a growing racial divide in approval for the mayor, with more black and Latino residents backing him and fewer white New Yorkers doing so.
De Blasio said he doesn't take the numbers seriously "because this is a moment of pain. People feel divided."
He added of Eric Garner's death on Staten Island, seen on amateur video footage that went viral: "People saw a man die before their very eyes. That caused immense pain. And it caused basically a rehashing of a bad history in this country . . . This generation has to find a way to overcome it."
With the city's first lady, Chirlane McCray, beside him on "The View," the mayor defended the message the parents have relayed to their son, Dante, about interactions with the police, a message that he said can present a "contradiction."
"The police are there to protect you . . . and yet there could be a misunderstanding," de Blasio said.
The mayor tried to emphasize his respect for the police force at large.
"Some people try to interpret that was a lack of respect for police, it's anything but. I have immense respect for police," he said.
PBA spokeswoman Al O'Leary declined to comment on Tuesday.