Monday morning, August 13, 2000. Brighton Beach at West 8th Street. My friend and I, each at the time 17 years old, went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to apply for the Learners Permit exam. At the time, getting those 6 points of ID was really difficult. A passport was worth 4 points, but where to get the other 2? Those points eventually were procured by means of a Social Security card and a Debit card, but it was a whole to-do to get everything together.
In any case, we took the train to Brighton Beach and walked straight to the DMV building which was adjacent to a Police station.
Typical-Brooklyn on Monday morning, when we walked into the building it was packed to the brim with people, so much so that it was hard to identify lines, let alone which line to take. We decided to either try another day, or another DMV with less people. Needless to say, we left at the nearest exit which led us into a lot with a large fence around it.
I initially thought that we had somehow ended up IN jail, rather than at the subway station. In any case, we finally found the exit and headed towards the subway station. All of a sudden, somebody called out from behind us, “Excuse me sir!” I turned around and asked what was the matter. He asked what we were doing. I replied that we were headed to the train station. He told us to go across the street because then-Mayor Giuliani was dedicating the street we were walking towards.
Having crossed the street, my friend and I were watching from 60 feet away Rudy Giuliani, in front of a police precinct, dedicate a street to Harry Ryman, an officer slain while off duty 20 years prior. Channel 2 News, Fox 5, Channel 7, etc reporters were all there. I wanted to get closer but all the officers were outside forming a human barricade. Making a couple of attempts and getting caught (it was a miracle that I wasn’t thrown into jail for my actions since the precinct was right there), I waited until the end of the speech where people were clapping and the human barricade broke into a bunch of random cops shmoozing and drinking coffee. I told my friend that I was trying one last time and he told me that I was nuts (I was)!
Dressed in a dark navy polo shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap, I made my way to the front, a few feet from the podium where Giuliani was about to finish his speech. He eventually finished, stepped down from the podium and briskly walked the opposite direction with his 5-6 secret service officers to his car. I followed him and just as about he was to make a sharp left turn into a lot where his limo presumably was, I called out to him, “Hey, Mayor Giuliani!” the secret service agents all turned around to see a 17 year old kid who had the youthful appearance of a 12 year old, ready to kill. Then Giuliani turned around, visibly annoyed and rushed. I stuck out my hand to shake and he shook it, and with a politician’s smile, saying “how are you?” He turned around again and I called out, asking for his autograph. He asked me if I had a pen and I said I didn’t. “Sorry,” he said, “I can’t help you out.”
Looking back, there was absolutely no material evidence that any of this ever happened save for my word. I didn’t have a camera, digital cameras were not widely available at that time, and cellphones, let alone smart phones, weren’t widespread yet to take pictures (payphones were more the norm). Looking back, we lived in the technological dinosaur age. Heck, the Twin Towers were still around! Needless to say, there was nothing to document what happened.
This story is what remains.
Note: as proof of the event, I found a letter from the Mayor’s office here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/html/2000b/pr314-00.html
“Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani joined First Deputy Police Commissioner Patrick E. Kelleher today as he renamed West 8th Street between Surf and Neptune Avenues in Brooklyn after Police Officer Harry R. Ryman who was killed 20 years ago today in an off-duty shoot out. At the time of his death, Officer Ryman was assigned to the 60th Precinct in Brooklyn.
On August 14, 1980, Officer Ryman, assigned to the 60th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit, was shot and killed while off-duty as he attempted to prevent three males from breaking into a parked car outside of his apartment. Officer Ryman confronted the suspects, and upon identifying himself as a police officer, was shot and fatally wounded. Officer Ryman was able to return fire, and wounded one of his assailants.
“I am honored to rename West 8th Street between Surf and Neptune Avenues in Brooklyn, ‘Police Officer Harry R. Ryman Place'”, Mayor Giuliani said. “In the twenty years since his death, his family, friends and fellow officers have honored his memory by emulating him and the example he set. Harry Ryman was a dedicated police officer who heeded the call of duty 24 hours a day. Today is New York City’s turn to pay this tribute to Officer Ryman so that he is never forgotten.”
“We dedicate this street so that every rookie officer who comes to the 60th Precinct will read the name Police Officer Harry Ryman before they even walk through the door, and will find the inspiration they need to follow his example of honor and commitment,” said Deputy Commissioner Kelleher. “We dedicate this street so that the citizens of this neighborhood and of this City will have a permanent and visible reminder of a true hero, who demonstrated to all of us that courage and a sense of duty are not qualities that you hang up with your uniform at the end of the day. And we dedicate this street to let the family of Harry Ryman know that this City recognizes the awful sacrifice that he was called to make, that you were called to make, and that you continue to make for the people of this City.”
Prior to joining the New York City Police Department, Harry Ryman served in the United States Navy. His five children, Nora, Janet, Margaret, Harry, and Edward attended today’s ceremony. His wife, Dorothy, passed away in 1999.”
This can be downloaded here: giuliani-ryman