Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos did not deserve to die. They are the two New York police officers who were ambushed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a mentally ill man who shot his girlfriend, then drove from Maryland to New York to, as he posted on his Instagram account, “put pigs in a blanket”. He was known to be mentally unstable and clearly, given what he did–and to do it in the names of Michael Brown and Eric Garner–demonstrates that he was not working with a full deck. In case you’ve been under a rock for the past 3 days, here is the full story.
Brinsley was psychotic. Clearly. And he has now left two families devastated. A child without his father for no justifiable reason. It is inexcusable. I pray the peace that can only come from God for those families.
But now, the circus has begun. Police unions and other White wingnuts are trying to use the acts of one mentally deranged idiot to derail the entire national conversation about police brutality. Somehow, a single crazy man commits a heinous act, and those at the center of the criticism, see an opportunity to seize the conversation and turn the spotlight from them, to the protesters, the Mayor of New York, President Obama, and Black folks in general.
Somehow, everybody else is to blame for the crazed act of one man, and a few misguided protesters who were calling for cops to be killed. But the reality is that police officers and their rabid supporters (the ones who completely deny that police brutality even exists) need to own up to the fact that if there is blood on anyone’s hands for the acts of a mentally ill man, if blame could assigned anywhere, then it starts at the front steps of police departments across the country.
Until good cops (who I believe far outnumber the bad ones) stand up and call out the bad ones, and stop tolerating the bad behavior, then police brutality will continue. And as long as police brutality continues, there will be push back and protests from the Black community.
And as long as there is oppression anywhere, there will always be mentally ill people who come out of the shadows and try to gain notoriety or seek some kind of twisted retribution for some offense. Oppression and stress bring out crazy people. And you can’t foresee it.
Who knew Adam Lanza was going to kill 26 school kids? Who knew James Holmes was going to shoot up a movie theater and kill 12 people and injure more? Who knew that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was going to set off bombs at last year’s Boston Marathon? What set them off? WHO KNOWS. Crazy people do crazy things.
Oh yeah, let’s not forget Cliven Bundy. When the feds came for him, him and a couple hundred of his closest friends got their rifles and dared the agents to cross the line in the sand. And the agents backed off. Clive Bundy is a nut job. Again, crazy people do crazy things.
Yes, let’s grieve…HARD…with and for the Liu and Ramos families. But let’s not allow the conversation about police brutality in Black communities to be co-opted or derailed. Let’s be willing to have dual conversations of improper policing and improper management of the mentally ill in this country. Both conversations are appropriate.
But we must not let up on our demands to address police brutality. Crazy people aside, the police have blood on their hands for the killings of far too many unarmed Black men and women.