Blue Lives Matter
by Pablo James
Last Saturday, a chill ran down the spine of every cop in America, their spouses, their children, their parents, and their friends. A chill that reminded each one of them that when they kiss their families good-bye and step out the door to go to work, it might well be for the last time ever.
Just before 3:00 p.m. on December 20, 2014, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were executed because they wore police uniforms. Let that sink in for a moment. Executed because they wore police uniforms.
I threw away my rose-colored glasses many years ago. I realize as cops we do a dangerous job and sometimes we die in the line of duty, but this is different. These men were not in a high-speed car chase, or running down an alley trying to catch a suspect. They were not making an arrest. They were sitting in their patrol car at a corner in Brooklyn when 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley walked up to the passenger side window and murdered them.
Brinsley, who posted on Instagram earlier in the day, “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs”, lacked the intestinal fortitude to engage his victims face-to-face. Not surprisingly, he was unwilling to face the rest of the NYPD. Like a true coward, he ran from the scene and took his own life when he heard approaching sirens.
This incident is not different because a cowardly scumbag shot a woman and killed two cops. This is different because of why it happened.
Officers Wenjian and Ramos were not about to capture Brinsley for shooting at his girlfriend. They were not even approaching him in a way that might make him think they were. No, he went on social media to advertise his intention to kill two cops as payback for the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Gardner in New York City. Then he walked up on the blindside of a parked patrol car and opened fire on two New York City police officers, killing them both.
Brinsley committed this act of savagery because he wanted to avenge the deaths of two black men killed by police under circumstances some people believe were unfair.
He destroyed two families only days before Christmas because he did not agree with what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Gardner.
He did not write to his elected officials and urge them to help change the system. He did not run for office and affect change from within the system. He did not help campaign and fundraise for a candidate he felt stood for the things he believed in.
No. He executed two men who did not even know he was there – two men whose only connection to the deaths of Michael Brown or Eric Gardner was that they also wore badges.
Terrorism is defined as the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. If Brinsley truly was concerned about social justice, and not simply a cheap, off-brand homicidal maniac with a grudge, then he chose to use terrorism as his weapon of choice to achieve this goal. Ironically, neither Wenjian nor Ramos was supposed to be working on the day they died. They were in on overtime. Overtime working on an anti-terror exercise. We will discuss the domestic terror angle of this story in separate post.
The irony is Brinsley very likely set the stage for exactly the kind of thing he professed to oppose.
Cops in New York City, like cops in any major city with high crime rates, are often on edge. They have to be. They can be hyper-vigilant in anticipation of the worst-case scenario. More often than not, this hyper-vigilance helps keep them alive. It helps an officer see that furtive movement he or she otherwise might have missed. It helps them see that arm that is not moving in concert with a person’s movement because that arm is helping keep a concealed weapon in place under a shirt.
Sometimes, however, the results are tragic. Sometimes, the result is a toy gun that is mistaken for a real one. Reaching for a wallet is mistaken for reaching for a weapon.
On that night, Ismaaiyl Brinsley single-handedly put a nation of police officers on a heightened state of awareness. If tragedy is the result, then even more blood is on his hands…and his hands alone.
A final thought. Rest in peace, gentlemen, you will never be forgotten.