Outgoing NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said Friday that he took a knee in June with Black Lives Matter protesters — amid violent, anti-cop rioting in the Big Apple — because some demonstrators didn’t want to “fight police” and wanted to “embrace change.”
Monahan was questioned about the controversial gesture on FOX 5’s Good Day New York Friday morning, days after he announced his decision to leave the NYPD and take a job as senior advisor at City Hall.
“Last year was the toughest year anyone’s ever faced in policing,” Monahan said. “The challenges the men and women of this agency went through were astronomical. The incidents during the summer — I took a knee with people who were willing to not fight police but to embrace change and come together.”
“And that’s what this is all about,” he added. “We can’t be fighting against one another. It can’t be one side against the other. To get this city back, we all have to work together as New Yorkers, not as one side versus the other.”
Monahan made the gesture in June amid demonstrations outside Washington Square Park, where he also addressed the crowd — pleading for an end to the violence that had plagued protests over the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“There is not a police officer over here that thinks Minnesota was justified,” he said at the time. “We cannot be fighting. We have to live here. This is our home.”
He was also shown in photos hugging protesters.
Mayor Bill de Blasio praised Monahan for defusing “a very tense situation in Washington Square Park.”
“I know him,” Hizzoner said at the time. “I know his heart — he is doing a whole lot not only to keep this city safe but to change the NYPD.”
But Monahan took criticism for his decision to kneel, including from Sergeants’ Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins.
“Cop for 39 years?” Mullins tweeted Thursday, sharing Monahan’s retirement announcement, along with a photo of the police official kneeling. “What he means to say is, he was on his knees for 39 years and has to leave because he has multiple CCRB complaints from the peaceful protest, that will embarrass De Blasio.
Monahan is expected to be grilled next week by the CCRB over police tactics during the summer demonstrations.
Post-retirement, Monahan will serve as de Blasio’s senior adviser for recovery, safety, and planning.
Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison will be the new chief of department.