The Blame Game over Police Shootings in New York

On Saturday, Dec. 20, two police officers in New York City, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were shot dead by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a man who claimed (on social media) that his actions were a “revenge” for the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y.  

Brinsley had a long criminal record, 19 arrests to be exact. News reports say he shot a former girlfriend in a suburb of Baltimore, then took a bus to New York, shot the police officers as they sat in their car, and then killed himself. He had no connection to the recent months of peaceful protests for police reform, and was probably mentally ill. But he linked the Ferguson and Staten Island tragedies to his own murderous act, thus trying to spin how others would perceive it.  

But the New York City police apparently are not satisfied with this information. They want to blame the largely peaceful, justice-oriented demonstrators who have taken to the streets of New York and elsewhere to protest police violence against unarmed young black men. And some -- like former Mayor Rudy Guliani, want to blame Mayor Bill DeBlasio of New York because he did not defend the officer who held Eric Garner in a chokehold … even after Garner said “I can’t breathe” more than once. And he wants to blame President Obama for pointing out the problem of excessive police violence. 

“We’ve had four months of propaganda, starting with the president, that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said on “Fox and Friends Weekend.” “I don’t care how you want to describe it: That’s what those protests are all about.” This “blame game” is nothing short of insanity … an insanity of overblown rhetoric blatantly laced with politics. All those Giuliani blames are Democrats, and Giuliani is a Republican. 

Those of us who believe in social justice should be outraged -- at three injustices: the killings of two police officers in cold blood, the killings of unarmed young black men by police in N.Y. and elsewhere, AND at the crazy “blame game” in the media.

Christmas is almost upon us. It’s time to let the spirit of Jesus permeate our public discourse (if that is possible these days) … promoting calm and sanity. 

Perhaps Cardinal Dolan of New York, at a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday, Dec. 21, said it best, urging New Yorkers to remain calm on the darkest day of the year.

“Here we are anticipating the joy of Christmas, and we feel like we’re nearer to Good Friday,” he said. But, on that day of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, he then said: “Light trumps darkness. Hope beats despair. Grace wins out over sin.” 

Let’s hope so.



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