American Police Beat October 2004

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Police protestors have a human megaphone

In New York City, if you want to protest with a sound system, protestors are forced to get a special permit. But the cops who have been following New York Mayor Bloomberg everywhere he goes for the last several months do not need amplification. They have Walter Liddy.

A big man with a voice to match, Liddy is the unofficial ringleader of the screaming, chanting cops who have tailed Bloomberg in an effort to draw attention to their stalled contract talks with the city.

It’s a job that comes naturally to Liddy, a former Midtown South patrolman who has been a trustee at the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for five years.

“Patty Lynch, the PBA president is the leader,” Liddy said after leading a group of cops in an anti- Bloomberg rally on Eighth Ave. “But as chant leader, yeah, you can say I am the loudmouth,” Liddy, 44, said with a chuckle. “All the bosses think so, anyways.”

To say that Liddy’s voice is merely ‘loud’ is like saying New York City is a little bit expensive. His booming baritone goes right through concrete walls.

The mayor usually speaks inside, but Liddy’s voice almost always manages to permeate whatever structure the mayor is in from the sidewalk outside.

During the week before the Republican Convention came to town, Liddy led the group in one of his typical chants: “No contract, no convention,” “Keep the praise, give us a raise,” “Whose blood? Our blood!” and “Run away, Mikey, run away.”

The protesting cops like to yell this last one at the Mayor as he is hustled away from events by his security detail.

The mayor claims that the protests will not affect his view that the city is facing tough times and cannot afford to pay cops and firefighters any more than other city workers, many of whom have signed deals worth about 5 percent over three years. “Walking up and yelling at somebody and then asking them for something is not the way I was brought up to do things,” he said Such comments do little to faze Liddy, however, who seems only to get more motivated with each passing protest.

The PBA has set up an elaborate phone “tree” that allows the union to rush as many as 30 off-duty cops to any spot in the city to greet the mayor within a few hours.

“We are the Minutemen,” Liddy said. “If Mayor Bloomberg has something on his schedule, we’ll be there.”