No one should have to bury a loved one because of violence.
That goes for the families of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Aiyanna Stanley-Jones, Renisha McBride, Jordan Davis, Islan Nettles, Eric Garner, and Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, the two NYPD officers killed on Saturday in Brooklyn. Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley, the man who shot Liu and Ramos, traveled up to New York City from Baltimore, where earlier that day he shot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, in her home (Thompson is expected to survive). After shooting Liu and Ramos, Brinsley went to a nearby subway station and killed himself.
The entire chain of events is tragic. Brinsley’s heinous actions have been condemned from all corners. But that hasn’t stopped some people from placing the blame for Liu and Ramos’s death on the current nationwide anti-police brutality movement, flying under the banner “Black Lives Matter.”
“There is blood on many hands,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, “from those that incited violence under the guise of protest to try to tear down what police officers do every day.” Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, in an appearance on Fox News, said, “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police. The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all of them lead to a conclusion. The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.”
The organizers responsible for the anti-brutality protests—which began in the wake of the August 9 killing of Michael Brown by (now former) Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Missouri, grew after a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson, and grew larger still when a grand jury in New York voted not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the July 17 killing of Eric Garner—reject these connections. In a statement, a group of organizers known as Ferguson Action said:
We are shocked and saddened by the news of two NYPD officers killed today in Brooklyn. We mourned with the families of Eric Garner and Mike Brown who experienced unspeakable loss, and similarly our hearts go out to the families of these officers who are now experiencing that same grief. They deserve all of our prayers.
Unfortunately, there have been attempts to draw misleading connections between this movement and today’s tragic events. Millions have stood together in acts of non-violent civil disobedience, one of the cornerstones of our democracy. It is irresponsible to draw connections between this movement and the actions of a troubled man who took the lives of these officers and attempted to take the life of his ex-partner, before ultimately taking his own. Today’s events are a tragedy in their own right. To conflate them with the brave activism of millions of people across the country is nothing short of cheap political punditry.