Rank and file New York Police Department members and their spokespeople are blaming peaceful protesters for inciting the brutal murder of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
Okay. There’s a discernible logic to that. I suppose had there been no public outrage over the most recent spate of police killings of unarmed black men, perhaps 28-year-old shooter Ismaaiyl Brinsley would have turned his anger and insanity toward another target. Had there been no protests against police violence to focus his rage, maybe instead of Officers Ramos and Liu, Brinsley would have shot up a synagogue or a mosque or a school? Or maybe his own family? He had already shot his ex-girlfriend earlier the same day, and his mother reportedly told police that she feared her own son, so this guy was clearly a shooting spree waiting to happen. Yeah, if not for the protests, perhaps Officers Ramos and Liu would still be alive today. It’s at least possible.
But you know what else might have prevented this tragedy? Fewer police killings of unarmed black men.
Had Officer Darren Wilson not shot dead Michael Brown, had NYPD officers not choked to death Eric Garner, and had our justice system not failed to vigorously prosecute the officers for, at the very least, negligence, these protests might have never been sparked. So if, as the NYPD insists, protests against police violence are responsible for inciting the murders of Officers Ramos and Liu, then the police violence that sparked the protests ultimately deserves some blame as well.
I understand if some find this line of reasoning offensive, but it is the logical conclusion of the same line of reasoning that prompted hundreds of NYPD officers to display their contempt for civil authority today by turning their backs on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in anger over his refusal to condemn protests against police violence.
Violence breeds violence. That is human nature. And that is why in the wake of this tragedy it is incumbent upon police officers nationwide to show more discipline, professionalism, and restraint, not less.