feature: nypd shootings should not be an excuse to criticize the protests
December 22, 2014
This weekend two police officers – Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos – were fatally shot as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn, an attack that comes off the back of growing protests against the New York Police Department; protests which followed the non indictment of the officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner. As unfortunate as said events are, it is also sad to see non-violent protestors blamed for the action of one misguided and mentally imbalanced man. Kareem Abdul-Jammar articulates this perfectly in a new piece for Time Magazine; read some excerpts from that article, below.
By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor
We need to value and celebrate the many officers dedicated to protecting the public and nourishing our justice system. It’s a job most of us don’t have the courage to do. At the same time, however, we need to understand that their deaths are in no way related to the massive protests against systemic abuses of the justice system as symbolized by the recent deaths—also national tragedies—of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Michael Brown. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the suicidal killer, wasn’t an impassioned activist expressing political frustration, he was a troubled man who had shot his girlfriend earlier that same day.
The protests are no more to blame for his actions than The Catcher in the Ryewas for the murder of John Lennon or the movieTaxi Driver for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Crazy has its own twisted logic and it is in no way related to the rational cause-and-effect world the rest of us attempt to create.
Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors. This is the same strategy used when trying to lump in the violence and looting with the legitimate protestors, who have disavowed that behavior. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.
Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.
Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.
This shrill cry of “policism” (a form of reverse racism) by Pataki and the police unions is a hollow and false whine born of financial self-interest (unions) or party politics (Republican Pataki besmirching Democrat de Blasio) rather than social justice. These tragic murders now become a bargaining chip in whatever contract negotiations or political aspirations they have.
What prompted a mentally unstable man to shoot two officers? Protestors? The mayor? Or the unjust killings of unarmed black men? Probably none of them. He was a ticking bomb that anything might have set off. What’s most likely to prevent future incidents like this? Stopping the protests which had sparked real and positive changes through a national dialogue? Changes that can only increase faith in and respect for the police? No, because the killer was mentally unfit. Most likely protecting the police from future incidents will come from better mental health care to identify, treat, and monitor violent persons. Where are those impassioned tweets demanding that?
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