The assassination of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos is heartbreaking and despicable. We feel for their families and for us as a community.
Who really knows what was in the mad mind of Ismaaiyl Brinsley when he traveled from Baltimore to kill cops, even though his Instagram posts shouted his intent? We do know these murders highlight the potential danger that men and women who sign on as police officers face every day. You never know when something crazy, dangerous or lethal will happen.
NYPD Commissioner William Bratton correctly says, “When you put that blue uniform on . . . you become part of that thin line between us and anarchy.”
And we know that some will jump at every opportunity to breach that line. I heard it in Washington Square Park last week, after the Eric Garner decision, when a woman with a bullhorn urged peaceful demonstrators to take lawyers’ numbers in case they changed their minds and decided to disrupt the protest.
After that, we saw it on the Brooklyn Bridge when a few protestors attacked two police lieutenants.
The police are not our enemies. We need them in our neighborhoods and we need to feel that they are neither an occupying nor oppressive force.
We applaud Mayor De Blasio and Commissioner Bratton for their efforts to change the culture and weed out “bad apples” whose first instinct is to use force, or slam an innocent person of color.
But we also think this is a time to ratchet down the rhetoric and hope that the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) President Pat Lynch takes a breath. His anger at the mayor seems knee-jerk and destructive and blocks efforts to build new bridges between the people and the police.
13-year-old Jaden Ramos suffered the overwhelming loss of his father Rafael. But he had the presence of mind to write eloquently on his Facebook page. And I hope we all can hear him.
“Today I had to say bye to my father. He was their (sic) for me everyday of my life, he was the best father I could ask for. It’s horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad.”