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Funeral For Slain Officer Blended NYPD And Chinese Traditions


We have the story of a funeral next, the funeral of a New York City police officer. And the story has two parts. One is the politics - the officer was 1 of 2 cops whose murders became part of a divisive debate about police and community relations. The other part is the story of the man who was buried. Wenjian Liu was born in China and grew up in the U.S. He was one of many, many immigrants who found their place among the police. The Irish-American cop you might imagine from 1915, may well be Asian-American in 2015. And yesterday's funeral reflected that change. Here's Stephen Nessen of member station WNYC.

STEPHEN NESSEN, BYLINE: In stoic silence under gray skies, thousands of police officers stood shoulder to shoulder, lining the residential streets of this working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn. Two buglers belted out "Taps," while inside the Italian-American funeral home, Buddhist monks performed a ceremony in a private room, and Chinese calligraphy hung from the walls. Outside, Curtis Liu, a lieutenant with the San Francisco Police Department, stood among other Asian-American police officers from around the country.

LIEUTENANT CURTIS LIU: We are a big family in the United States of officers, and officers felt compelled to come out here.

NESSEN: Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered a eulogy.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: Detective Liu was deeply devoted to his mother and father, a devotion that Confucius said powerfully was, quote, "the root of a man's character."

NESSEN: While the mayor spoke, many police officers outside turned their backs to protest what the union says is a lack of support from city hall. The police commissioner had asked officers not to use funerals for protests after officers did the same thing at the funeral of Liu's partner Rafael Ramos.

Across the street, hundreds of civilians stood behind metal barricades on the sidewalk watching the funeral on a big screen. Yingchao Zhang came from central New Jersey. He says while Liu is leaving behind a young wife and parents, he's a role model for young Asian-Americans.

YINHCHAO ZHANG: I think it's going to inspire a lot of the Asian-American young generation to actually follow his footsteps.

NESSEN: The ceremony closed with a procession led by a kilt-wearing pipe-and-drum band. Liu's family car followed. A large incense stick was poking out of the window, burning in honor of a son, husband and officer. For NPR News, I'm Stephen Nessen in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephen Nessen