This past weekend two police officers were shot and killed in their police car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York by a shooter identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley (28). He then shot himself after attacking the officers, and died that same day. The two officers that were killed were Rafael Ramos, 40, a father of two, and Wenjian Liu, 32, a newlywed of just two months.
Brinsley reportedly made threats towards the police on his Instagram account prior to the incident, while also ranting furiously about the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown. It is evident, as reported by the media, that the shooter had personal and family issues, but that was no excuse for a mindless murder.
As soon as the news broke of the tragic incident, people took to social media to express their feelings on the situation, quickly turning it into a political issue and reigniting the flames of the national blame game that has been being played between the police and the public in the wake of the verdicts of the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown.
People have used these incidents to speak up on their views of police brutality and racism. They have used these incidents to lash out at politicians and other public figures, such as Al Sharpton, that have entered the limelight as advocates for either the police or the two victims.
But now that the two latest victims are police officers, some people’s views have begun to shift.
Social media accounts read remarks such as “#NYPDLivesMatter,” and “Impeach de Blasio.” Some are “lighting up” their Facebook accounts with pictures of blue candles in honor of the fallen officers. The New York Yankees have even offered to pay for the education of the two sons that Officer Ramos left behind through The Yankee Silver Shield Foundation.
And with the remarks that are pro-police, have come the remarks that supporting the police is the problem, that tweeting #NYPDLivesMatter, is racist, as #BlackLivesMatter has been a trending topic as of late. There are people who claim that the officers deserved to die, that police officers are pigs. Some are blaming protestors for these deaths. A petition to impeach New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio has even been circulating on the Internet.
But in this never ending blame game, many have failed to realize that the blood in these tragedies is not on the hands of The Mayor, the protestors, the police officers, or the media alone…the blood is on the hands of our society as a whole for being entirely ignorant of how we handle ourselves. We, as a society, have not taken the right path in dealing with these issues on either side. Instead of using these situations to start an honest conversation on changing the way we view and treat each other and law enforcement, we have remained rooted in the same beliefs that have damaged our country for years, with no hope for change in sight.
Much of the protesting and anger towards the police has occurred in New York City, where the death of Eric Garner took place. New York City itself has lost more police officers in the line of duty than any other department in the US, with 697 deaths listed on the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial.
It has been apparent that the NYPD has had enough of the protestors, and the anti-cop rhetoric has overwhelmed the public. New York City’s own mayor went against the force when he used his own son, Dante, as an example of why the police are to be feared. He invoked the element of racism that many blame the police department for – and he is not the only one. But the mayor of a major city going against his own police force is just about as stupid as the President going against the armed forces of our country. In the grand scheme of things, it is a very bad move.
In a press conference, de Blasio lashed out at the media for dividing the city with its reports of violent protestors. He depicts the minority as the majority, which is ironic, as the mayor himself has divided the city by depicting the minority of cops who have been involved with arrest-related deaths, as the majority of officers. He also painted the picture that the NYPD is a group of racists.
In response to de Blasio’s remarks and actions, the NYPD turned its backs on him after he arrived at the hospital where the two slain officers were on Saturday night. While the Police Commissioner Bill Bratton rejected the idea that recent incidents were the mayor’s fault, the President of the city’s police union, Patrick Lynch, came out and said “the officer’s blood starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of The Mayor.” If there was ever a rift between the NYPD and the Mayor of New York City, this is it. This division of leadership is the ultimate blow to the City of New York.
The bottom line is that racism is in fact alive, but in this day and age, racism knows no skin color – nor does poverty, or problems with healthcare and education. It is possible to be discriminated against for the color of your skin, regardless of the color of it, and this is a fact that many people refuse to recognize. By refusing to recognize this, we are being ignorant as a society. We will not be able to move forward until we realize that these problems are not thrust upon just one race, but all races. Almost nobody is an exception to some form of discrimination anymore.
It is infuriating that it is even suggested that claiming “All Lives Matter” versus “Black Lives Matter” is racist. Taking these situations as an opportunity to condemn injustices against all races does not make a person a racist. By focusing solely on the issues that one race faces, we are only furthering the concept of “racism” that has been instilled in us. We are not eradicating racism if we are taking away from the challenges faced by other races to focus on one; we are only worsening it. We cannot place the blame on the police force when it is our society as a whole that is guilty of discriminating against each other. In terms of discrimination, nobody’s hands are clean.
With that being said, to label the entire police force as a bunch of “corrupt racists” as many have, is entirely ignorant and again, furthers the division between the people and the police.
As Commissioner Bratton stated, police officers do face certain dangers as they are a part of the thin blue line “between us and anarchy.”
The reality of this situation is that we do need a police force, and a huge majority of our police force serves us honestly and with care. They deserve recognition for that. Not everyone can bravely put his or her lives on the line day after day to serve and protect our country.
In the same way that people do not want Ismaaiyl Brinsley to be the face of the protests against brutality, we cannot let a minority of officers who are “corrupt” to be the face of the entire police force in the United States of America.
The ultimate issue with these recent events is that our negative perceptions of social issues are rooted so deeply within us, that we make no room for improvement in ourselves; therefore we cannot advance as a society. Rather than try to change the way that we perceive others, we remain static, and that is dangerous. We have kept the division in our society solid, without actively working to fix it. While we say we are revolutionists who “demand change”, we do not change anything. We go back home when the protests are over, and we forget about the issues until the next big one rolls around. Rather than seriously trying to change things, we wait for others to change things for us, but in reality, nobody really does.
We think that we are making a change by taking to the streets with our signs, but without actually applying the words written on them to our lives, we remain stagnant. We are hurting ourselves, and most importantly, our future generations.
It remains true that discrimination because of race, sex, religion, etc. is alive and well here in the United States of America. But until we actually pull ourselves up and out of the rut that we have been stuck in since the beginning of our country’s birth, we will see no progress.