SORROW AND JUSTICE
©Wendell Griffen, 2014
Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu of the New York Police Department were murdered on December 20. Their assailant, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, also shot a former girlfriend before killing the police officers and then killing himself. Officers Ramos and Liu were murdered. Their families are permanently wounded. Their colleagues in law enforcement grieve as only those who know the loss of professional comrades from violence can grieve.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley was, from what has been reported thus far, one man with a long record of violating the law and mental instability. Brinsley reportedly invoked the deaths of Eric Garner (who was killed July 23 on Staten Island, New York) and Michael Brown, Jr. (who was killed August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri) as the motivating factors for his hateful and murderous actions. But nothing shows Brinsley had any connection to the peaceful protests about police brutality and racial profiling that have occurred during recent months.
Brinsley’s murderous conduct was an act of injustice. Let no one mistake that fact (or as young people might say “don’t get it twisted”). Those of us who denounce and condemn police brutality and racial profiling also denounce and condemn what Brinsley did. It is as wrong to profile and brutalize people in law enforcement as it is wrong for people in law enforcement to profile and brutalize others. All lives matter equally.
It is also wrong for law enforcement leaders (including Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City police union) to attribute Brinsley’s vicious behavior to the legitimate calls for reform and the non-violent protests and acts of civil disobedience that have occurred in recent months. Officers Ramos and Liu were murdered. Their assassination was evil. The people who are protesting abusive and homicidal conduct by police officers know this painfully well. Grief and shock at the murders of Officers Ramos and Liu are no excuse for anyone to blame people who are protesting abusive and homicidal conduct by police.
That is why we join police officers in New York and elsewhere in mourning the assassinations of Officers Ramos and Liu. We join the families of two police officers in sorrow for their horrible loss.
People who believe in justice believe that it is wrong to brutalize and slaughter other people. We who condemn and denounce racial profiling and police brutality should not allow anyone to suggest that Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s murderous conduct was vengeance for Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Jr., or any other victims of abusive and homicidal conduct by law enforcement agents. Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s actions were hateful, not honorable. People who believe in justice should say so. And people who believe in justice should say that racial profiling and brutality by law enforcement agents is hateful, not honorable.
We who believe in justice must mourn the deaths of Officers Ramos and Liu. We must denounce and condemn Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s murderous conduct as hateful and unjust. And we must continue to denounce racial profiling and police brutality as unjust until racial profiling is ended and long demanded concerns about police brutality have been resolved.