An estimated 10,000 off-duty NYPD officers showed up to a rally organized by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association outside City Hall. The off-duty police officers were called to action by the police union over disapproval with actions taken by the then mayor, David Dinkins. Police were protesting, amongst other complaints, that Dinkins had appointed the Mollen Commission to investigate NYPD corruption. To show their disapproval with the Dinkins administration, the officers began the rally with rhetoric that was described as "vicious," with officers engaging in jarring behavior, including "jumping barricades, tramping on automobiles, mobbing the steps of City Hall" and "blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge for nearly an hour in the most unruly and angry police demonstration in recent memory," according to an account of the rally published by The New York Times. There were instances when some of the 300 uniformed police officers, who were supposed to police the rally, actually encouraged raucous behavior by the protesters. Dinkins blamed PBA leadership, as well as then presumed mayoral candidate Rudolph Giuliani, for inciting the police into rowdy actions, calling the actions by police as "bordering on hooliganism." 
The Editorial Board of The New York Times called the police rally a "riot," finding both praise and fault in a preliminary report by NYPD of the police misconduct. The report found that police officers used racial slurs to describe Dinkins, who is Black, and that there had been drinking in connection with the rally. Generally, the report was well received by the Editorial Board for its frankness, but, in the editors' nuanced view of the report, the report still fell short, because the report was "thick with language critical of the unruly behavior but apparently thin on charges against individual rioters," again pointing out that the NYPD was unable to keep the conduct of its own officers in check. Then Acting NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly himself "raised serious questions about the Department's willingness and ability to police itself," according to The New York Times.