You have to be a special kind of parasite to politicize death, but fortunately for those working in politics, media, and law enforcement such a strain can only serve to propel you in your field. It’s been less than a week since the shooting deaths of two NYPD officers at the hands of the clearly disturbed Ismaaiyl Brinsley, but it only took hours for people to use those murders to make their political cases. Not surprisingly, one of the first to do so was former New York mayor and race hustler, Rudy Giuliani, who took to FOX News to spew his divisive rhetoric.
During his appearance on FOX News Sunday, Giuliani found a way to blame a mad man’s actions on President Obama. He argued, “We’ve had four months of propaganda, starting with the president, that everybody should hate the police. I don’t care how you want to describe it — that’s what those protests are all about.” He went on to scold New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, too, for “allowing protests to get out of control.”
Well, the way to describe Giuliani’s categorization of demonstrations against police brutality is simply wrong. The same goes for his critique of Obama. Washington Post fact checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee awarded Giuliani four Pinocchios in response to his litany of lies. I wish she would have awarded him a muzzle instead.
Another race hustler and FOX News regular, Bill O’Reilly, echoed this complaint. Calling for his resignation, O’Reilly ranted about de Blasio and said, “He cannot run this city. He’s lost control of the police department and their respect. They will never come back no matter what he says, because he sided with the protesters.”
O’Reilly’s complaints come on the heels of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, New York City’s largest police union, releasing horrifying statements like: “The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”
Their president, Pat Lynch, is no better: “If we won’t get support when we do our jobs, if we’re going to get hurt for doing what’s right, then we’re going to do it the way they want it. Let me be perfectly clear. We will use extreme discretion in every encounter.”
Members of law enforcement, and in particular, those in the NYPD, have been behaving as if they are at war with Black people for some time now, hence the “extreme discretion used in every encounter.” And yes, the protests against some of them are happening now.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the unions had agreed to stop putting out statements out of respect for the fallen officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. But he, too, blamed protestors, saying, “It’s quite obvious that the targeting of these two police officers was a direct spinoff of the issues of these demonstrations.” He added de Blasio has “turnt off” some officers.
For the record, de Blasio is not the first mayor to battle with the NYPD. Former New York Times reporter David Firestone noted via Twitter, “NYC’s police unions have repeatedly and opportunistically abused their power and shabbily attacked every recent mayor.” Yes, this includes Rudy Giuliani.
That’s why I am disappointed in Bill de Blasio calling on protestors to temporarily stop their protests to allow Liu and Ramos’ families to mourn. Such a call implicitly links the actions of peaceful protest with those of a sole monster.
Bill de Blasio has essentially been criticized for teaching his black son “how to take special care with any encounter he may have with police officers.” His honesty in articulating that position is commendable, but it’s a gesture now trounced by his unnecessary call for those who have peacefully taken to the streets asking that their humanity be recognized, to be halted under the pretense of honoring the lives they had nothing to do with taking.
There is work that still needs to be done. Police brutality didn’t take any breaks following the deaths of the Black men, women, and children who have died at the hands of law enforcement. Why should those who fight against it do so? De Blasio’s request is an attempt to silence Black voices airing a rightful grievance. Even if temporary, it is wrong to ask.
Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos did not deserve to die. Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s girlfriend did not deserve to be shot. Any sensible person should understand this. Still, those protesting did not pull the triggers so do not ask them to sit in silence.
We need to end this culture which allows law enforcement to think they are above reproach. Police officers are supposed to uphold the law, not act as if they are above it.