Ed Mullins

DEFIANT: The president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins, has steadfastly pushed back on demands that he resign as head of the 6,500-member union following a Twitter post in which he called Councilman and Congressional candidate Ritchie Torres a 'whore.' The Sept. 4 tweet followed Mr. Torres’s request for an independent investigation into whether police officers were engaged in a work slowdown. 

To Ed Mullins’s arsenal of epithets directed at public officials, you can now add “whore.”

The pugnacious president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association directed this last oath, on Sept. 4, at Councilman Ritchie Torres via the union’s Twitter account in response to Mr. Torres’s request that the city Department of Investigation look into whether NYPD officers were engaging in a work slowdown.

“He[re] we go America this is what a first class whore looks like RITCHIE TORRES. Passes laws to defund police, supports criminals, & now because he’s running for office he blames the police to protect what he voted for. Remember Little Ritchie? Meet LYING RITCHIE,” read the tweet, since taken down. 

Among Several Incidents

Hours before the SBA’s tweet, Mr. Torres, the Democratic nominee for a Bronx congressional seat in November’s election, and the Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, a former NYPD Captain and a likely candidate for Mayor, citing a decrease in arrests and other factors, had called for an independent investigation into the department.

Mr. Torres, who is gay, responded to Mr. Mullins's tweet hours later with one of his own, calling the SBA “a bona fide hate group masquerading as a union.” He then singled out Mr. Mullins by name, comparing him to President Trump: “The racism, misogyny, and homophobia of Ed Mullins gives @realDonaldTrump a run for his money.”

Each has since called on the other to resign, with Mr. Torres also saying that the union leader should be fired. The Civilian Complaint Review Board confirmed that it had received a complaint about the SBA tweet and will investigate.

Mr. Mullins, a 38-year cop and the SBA president since 2002, has long had a fractious relationship with city officials. He has not shied away from using social media to express his displeasure with their actions or rhetoric and occasionally peppered his tweets with indecorous remarks.

In a May tweet, for instance, he called the then-Commissioner of Health, Oxiris Barbot, a “bitch” who “has blood on her hands” following the disclosure of an exchange between Dr. Barbot and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan during which she allegedly said that she did not give “two rats’ asses about your cops” in a dispute about protective equipment.

Declared 'War' on Mayor

Following a pair of shootings by a career criminal that injured two officers on Feb. 9 referenced by Mayor de Blasio, the SBA took issue, tweeting, “Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you!”

Last December, Mr. Mullins, in a tweet for which he subsequently apologized, implied Tessa Majors, the Barnard student killed during a robbery in Morningside Park, had gone to the park to buy marijuana, in essence making her partly to blame for her death. 

And in January 2019, Mr. Mullins was criticized for a Twitter post that referred to a black Detroit Lions football player as “a wild animal” and “dog crap” for allegedly assaulting an NYPD Sergeant while being booked for failing to pay his cab fare.

Citing the tweet referencing Dr. Barbot, Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mr. Torres, the Chairman of the Council’s Oversight and Investigation Committee, requested an investigation into whether the SBA had violated City Charter provisions against slurs and offensive language. Mr. Mullins, though, has steadfastly denied accusations that his language reflects prejudice of any kind, whether racist, misogynistic or anti-gay. 

'Do Your Homework'

As evidence, he evoked, during a Sept. 9 radio interview, his youth in Greenwich Village, one of the nation’s preeminent gay neighborhods; his enthusiastic support for Stonewall’s 50th anniversary; his appointment of the first woman to the SBA’s executive board; and the union’s recent drive to collect more than $21,000 in reward money for the arrest and indictment of the killer who shot 1-year-old Davell Gardner, a black Brownsville boy shot in a Bedford-Stuyvesant park shooting late July 12. 

“You’re coming after Ed Mullins, you better do your homework,” he said during the WABC radio interview when asked to respond to criticism following his tweet referring Councilman Torres.

“And to come after me...That’s a typical response when you don't want to talk about the issue,” namely crime, he continued. 

Although the Sept. 4 tweet has since been taken down, Mr. Mullins did not back down from its content during his radio appearance, when in response to a question from his interviewer he asked listeners how they would describe someone “who sells themselves for something that’s popular rather than what’s right.”

Cited Performance Lag

During a press conference that day outside City Hall also attended by Mr. Adams, Mr. Torres cited reductions in gun arrests and slower response times as reasons to look into whether officers were engaged in a slowdown at time shootings and murders were spiking. 

“The dramatic increase in gun violence can be best explained by the dramatic decrease in gun enforcement,” he said during the presser. 

Mr. Mullins, though, said Mr. Torres was among the city officials who, in effect, were the architects of the increases in violent crime since it was the City Council that passed police reform laws, including prohibitions on certain types of restraint, that had handcuffed cops.  

“They made a decision and when they made the decision, we ended up with bodies in the street,” the union leader said. “They voted for it, they own it, and it’s up to them to fix it.” 

He said Mr. Torres owed “the members of the NYPD an apology.” Should he apologize, Mr. Mullins said he “would be more than happy” to sit and speak with the Councilman.

Torres: 'A Racist Relic'  

A detente between the two appears unlikely: A day before Mr. Mullins’ radio interview, Mr. Torres, in a tweet, called the union leader “a racist relic of the past.” 

And during another press conference outside City Hall the same day, he said the union leader should be fired from the NYPD given that he represents an institution “that polices our communities.”

In a press release later in the day, Mr. Mullins said his tweet had “nothing to do” with his personal attributes but rather with his “dangerous policies and worldview.”

“His claim that the police are somehow responsible for the terrible condition of the City is a lie that I will not allow to go unchallenged,” Mr. Mullins wrote. “He is either intellectually dishonest or hopelessly naïve. Either way, he’s the one who is responsible for the sorry state of the City, and he should be the one to resign.” 

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