Reprinted from Reader Supported News
The image is too hard to bear when it's laid out -- Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were sitting in their car, doing their job, when they were suddenly ambushed by a deranged individual and killed execution-style. Their killer had no regard for the officers as individual human beings, no care for how their families would deal with their loss, no consideration for the contributions those officers made or could have made to society. He took it upon himself to assert the authority to end their lives. Then, without any indictment or trial by a jury of his peers, the man took his own life, skirting the justice that the families of those slain officers deserve.
That deep, stinging pain that the law enforcement community is feeling about the death of two of their own is exactly what the #BlackLivesMatter movement is all about. Rather than declaring "war" on citizens, the NYPD should be rallying with the community. Instead of recognizing the perpetrator as a disturbed individual who committed an isolated incident, an entire justice movement is being painted with a broad brush and then threatened with "war."
Why is it that the privileged refuse to acknowledge injustice until it's been perpetrated against them? The #BlueLivesMatter hashtag on Twitter shows a glimpse of how the privileged are processing the unjust killing of police officers who, like Mike Brown and Eric Garner, were confronted by an individual that decided unilaterally they didn't deserve to live. Now, the privileged are getting just one bitter taste of how the black community feels every time one of its own is killed without reason or justification. Black or white, families of murder victims want to see the killers on trial and behind bars. That stinging feeling is called injustice. The only way to prevent the recurrence of this tragedy is to address the real issue.
Rather than perpetuating the problem by blaming citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, "New York's finest" should stop attributing the actions of one to the actions of many, stop declaring "war" on a community they've sworn to protect and serve, and stop disassociating a loss they've suffered with the loss of life that led to the #BlackLivesMatter movement to begin with.
What the privileged haven't had to endure is the media overlooking the actions of their killer while putting the deceased on trial. The last thing any grieving family member wants is the character assassination of their loved ones in the media. The families of the two NYPD officers killed in their car should be thankful that their fathers, sons, and brothers aren't being called " thugs" or "animals" who "probably deserved it." Since when did selling cigarettes, jaywalking, and being homeless in pubic cost you your life? No matter what the deceased were accused of, it's not acceptable for them to have been robbed of their lives, just as it is unacceptable for the two slain officers to be robbed of their lives by a lone, confused, disturbed individual.
Tamir Rice's family saw their child's life taken within seconds of police arriving, by an officer who had been previously deemed "unfit for duty" two years prior. Mike Brown's parents lost their son just days before he was supposed to start college, all from a jaywalking stop. Eric Garner's children not only have to live with the fact that their father was choked to death for selling cigarettes, but that video of his murder was seen around the world, and his killer didn't even have to go to trial, despite the coroner ruling his death a homicide as the result of the officer's illegal chokehold.
The families of Akai Gurley, Dontre Hamilton, Oscar Grant, Rekia Boyd, Ramarley Graham, and so many others will never get to see their loved ones on Christmas ever again. None of them asked for those officers responsible for their loved ones' deaths to be killed. They simply asked for them to stand trial for their actions and receive the appropriate punishment.
Our society is spinning out of control. Entire communities have been shut out from the justice system. Police officers who took an oath to protect and serve their communities have now declared themselves to be in "wartime" against those communities. And people's constitutional right to express their outrage are being denied by those same police, and by politicians hamstrung by police unions.
Mayor Bill de Blasio's call for peaceful protests to end is like declaring citizens guilty of a crime they didn't commit. When police are calling ongoing protests an act of war, it's a harbinger of further brutality to come against the community, and it only serves to further inflame tensions rather than de-escalate them. Make no mistake -- there will only be more Eric Garners and Mike Browns until the police accept that the pain they're feeling is the same pain the black community has been forced to endure.
Despite what police unions nationwide would have us think, the #BlackLivesMatter movement isn't about seeking vigilante justice against cops. It's about treating the deaths of unarmed black people as just as much of a national tragedy as two dead police officers. It's about giving black lives the same reverence in death that we give white lives and police lives. It's about pursuing justice for the killers of black people with the same fervor as we would for the killers of police officers.
White America shouldn't see the #BlackLivesMatter movement as a problem solely for the black community to overcome. Rather, we should see this as a basic issue of human dignity. The civil rights movement never really ended -- they just murdered its leaders. Now people are back in the streets fighting for the most fundamental of human rights that are taken for granted by white Americans: People have the right to exist and live their lives without worrying about the threat of having that life suddenly snuffed out by a deranged individual -- whether the killer carries a badge or has an Instagram account.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.