A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
To stop future assassinations of police, we must toughen gun laws & end police brutality against minorities
No sane person would condone or try to justify the execution-style killings of two New York City police officers in broad daylight. It is a senseless act of terror by an emotionally disturbed individual. Not even a political or religious terrorist of the most violent sort could approve. The very fact that the alleged assassin Ismaaiyl Brinsley turned the gun on himself when he still had a chance to escape demonstrates that mental illness, not politics, motivated his horrifying actions. Brinsley’s alleged action is completely unconnected to any group, nor did it occur during a mass protest or riot. He was evidently just a psychopath with a gun.
Yet, at the same time, no rational person should fail to see that this type of killing was inevitable. It results from a combination of a long and sad history of brutal police treatment of minorities throughout the United States and the ready availability of guns in American society. Anyone who doubts cop-killing or any kind of killing is a direct function of the proliferation of guns in American society should check out the statistics in other countries of the world, in which gun controls laws are far stricter than ours and far fewer people own them. I hope that the police and politicians realize that the way to minimize the possibility of future premeditated attacks on police is to change police policies and stiffen gun control laws.
The tragic irony of Brinsley’s deed is that he travelled all the way from Baltimore to kill men named Wenjian Liu and Raphael Ramos—a Chinese and a Hispanic, members of two minority groups that have suffered discrimination in the United States. It has been exclusively a white establishment that has allowed police to target minorities for “special” treatment in the criminal justice system.
Most sides in the controversies over the killing of innocent African-Americans in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York and elsewhere have understood that now is not the time to score political points, but to mourn the loss of yet two more innocent victims of firearm violence. A shameful exception has been New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Society which tweeted that the “blood of two executed police officers is on the hands of Mayor de Blasio.” All de Blasio did was to question the handling of the Eric Garner choke hold case and to end the illegal practice of focusing stop-and-frisk activities in minority neighborhoods. De Blasio is a pro-union guy who has settled contracts with city unions that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg refused to negotiate.
This woefully mistimed manifestation of an “if you don’t think we’re perfect, you’re against us” mentality belongs on any list of factors on why handfuls of bad police officers across the country can routinely kill innocent citizens with little or no punishment. Instead of condemning one of labor’s best friends, the good sergeants should be figuring out how to repair relations with minority communities and campaigning to make the gun laws across the country as strong as they are in New York City.
— by Marc Jampole writing for Vox Populi