Justice

Both Right-Wing and Left-Wing Lunatics Kill Police Officers. That's Not the Point

The shooting that killed police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos was unspeakably despicable.

That their killer, who shot his ex-girlfriend Shaneka Thompson before he killed Liu and Ramos, claimed to have represented #blacklivesmatter or the Brown and Garner families is equally abhorrent. It should be intuitive that good people who are worried about police brutality are also horrified by these killings. Good people were also horrified at the murders in June of two Las Vegas police officers, Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck. Soldo and Beck, like Liu and Ramos, were having lunch. They were at a pizza joint when a married couple, two white supremacists, entered the restaurant and ambushed them. They shot and killed both police officers, dragged their bodies to the floor, and left a "Don't Tread on Me" flag on top of them. (That flag is commonly associated with right-wing causes.) Like Saturday's murderer in Brooklyn, the two two Vegas cop killers had posted incendiary comments on social media prior to the murders.

That those killers were right-wing, anti-government types is irrelevant. What they did was heinous and has nothing to do with good people who are concerned with government overreach. 

Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck

NYPD Police Officers Killed By Gunman

These four police officers were murdered in cold blood. We can be outraged by these murders while also working to eliminate police brutality. Those two sentiments are not mutually exclusive. Al Sharpton is no more responsible for the two police offices killed in New York as Rush Limbaugh is responsible for the murders in Las Vegas. The people responsible were the unhinged lunatics who pulled the trigger. Anyone arguing otherwise, such as NYPD Union President Pat Lynch (in the video below), is just gross.

Police officers are not the enemy

Police officers do not sign up for the force hoping to commit civil rights violations or shoot unarmed people. The vast majority of police officers want to do a good job. We need to work hard to make their jobs easier, and that means finding tangible, practical solutions. Maybe it's police body cameras. Or better training to help diffuse situations. Or simply getting more officers on the beat so police feel safer. Any of those solutions sound like a great place to start. The point, though, is that our leaders in government are failing the police officers by leaving them ill-equipped to handle these situations.

Protestors are not advocating for the murder of police

Some people, like former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have tried to blame the protestors in Ferguson for creating an atmosphere of hatred that led to Saturday's murders. That's crazy and should be dismissed immediately. To say that protestors or liberal politicians are advocating for cop killing is patently dishonest. Some have also blamed certain bad apple protestors who were chanting about killing cops or looting. Of course, focusing on these isolated incidents is an easy way to ignore the legitimate complaints of protestors. The vast majority of people are protesting because they see something wrong, and they want it solved. 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar summed it up well -- anyone who thinks these protests were "anti-police" protests is misunderstanding the issue:

In a Dec. 21, 2014 article about the shooting, the Los Angeles Times referred to the New York City protests as “anti-police marches,” which is grossly inaccurate and illustrates the problem of perception the protestors are battling. The marches are meant to raise awareness of double standards, lack of adequate police candidate screening, and insufficient training that have resulted in unnecessary killings. Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.

This stuff is pretty simple. But a lot of people got it wrong this weekend.