By Elizabeth Elizalde
As a Latina, I join with others in the community of New York to mourn NYPD officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32. I live in Bushwick not far from where Ismaaiyl Brinsley gunned them down in Bed-Stuy.
And those of us who live near the Tompkins Houses know the area is sometimes tough. We fear gangs and random gun violence and we know we need the police to patrol.
Many of us participated in the protests and “die-ins,” that hammered the city for days, after grand juries failed to indict white officers in the Eric Garner case on Staten Island and in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Many Latinos told me they attended the protests because they dislike and fear racial profiling. But there’s more to it. We also support the police. We do not want to have an adversarial relationship with police officers who work in our neighborhoods.
And this seems to reflect the thinking of many Latinos all across the nation.
A Pew Research survey released after the Ferguson protests found 46 percent of Latinos trust their local police force to treat them the same as they do white people. 63 percent say the police do a good job enforcing the law and 45 percent have confidence in the police not to use excessive force on suspects.
Yet we march in New York and elsewhere because we found the use of stop-and-frisk and racial profiling excessive and we want fair treatment for people of color. But we do not want to encourage the crazed actions of someone like Brinsley and we do not want police officers attacked.
Leading voices in our communities reflect what we think.
Jose Lopez, a community organizer at Make the Road By Walking, a group that helps Latinos, said, “This is a time when we must all stand together against senseless violence.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito wrote on Twitter, “I am truly horrified at the acts of violence perpetrated against our #NYPD officers. I’m praying for officers shot & their families.”
Officers Ramos and Liu and every other good cop on the job deserve our respect for their efforts to protect our communities. It’s time to mourn the two officers and take the opportunity to work on improving police-community relations.