NEW YORK (CNN) -- Amid criticism that he's fanned tensions between the public and police, New York's mayor met with the families of two slain officers on Monday.
"They are in tremendous pain," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters, "and they are worried deeply."
The mayor said speaking with Officer Rafael Ramos' two teenage sons made him think of his own children.
"You have two teenage, good young men, who no longer have a father because of an assassin," de Blasio said.
"I told them that I lost my own dad when I was 18, and that as painful and difficult as it is, families come together. People find a way forward," he said. "I also told them that we would be there for them. That the NYPD family would be there for them and the people of New York City and the family of New York would be there for them, and we will be."
Officer Wenjian Liu's family also is devastated, de Blasio said. His parents are mourning the loss of their only child, and his wife of just two months is facing the heartbreaking reality of losing her husband in an instant.
De Blasio repeated his calls to put aside debates and protests and focus on the officers' grieving families.
"It was an attack on every single New Yorker and we have to see it as such," he said.
"We have to get everyone to move away from anger and hatred," he said during an afternoon press conference. "If there are differences, we have to address them peacefully. We have to give people faith that their concerns can be heard peacefully across the spectrum and we have to move forward."
He said New York will not "be the kind of city it was meant to be if there is a division between our police and the community."
"The police are our protectors and they must be respected as such," he added.
He said the murders this weekend were "an attack on all of us" during luncheon remarks at the Police Athletic League shortly before his afternoon press conference. And the mayor also called for a hiatus from the protests that have gripped the city and the nation, saying the should focus instead on Liu and Ramos' families.
"It's time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in due time," he said. "Let's accompany these families on their difficult journey. Let's see them through the funerals ... then the debate can begin again."
But during his afternoon press conference, he also pushed back against his critics, calling remarks from the head of the city's police union "wrong and mistaken."
De Blasio also accused the media of contributing to the atmosphere of tension between police and protesters.
"What are you guys gonna do — are you going to keep dividing us?" a visibly angry de Blasio asked reporters, asserting that the media had unfairly focused on a few examples of violence that did not reflect the majority of protesters.
"You all are part of this, too," he added.