Two New York Police Department officers were ambushed last weekend by Ismaaiyl Brinsley after he had made threatening posts online, including references to high-profile cases of white police officers killing unarmed black men and a vow to put “wings on pigs.” After shooting the officers, Brinsley ran into a Brooklyn subway station and committed suicide.
The killings of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos have raised concerns in the already tense nationwide debate surrounding police conduct. Some key developments since the officers’ killings:
PRAYERS AND SUPPORT FOR SLAIN OFFICERS
The Rev. Al Sharpton and the mother and widow of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who died after what a medical examiner determined was a white officer’s chokehold, prayed for the families of the two slain officers at a Christmas dinner event.
The Garner family observed a moment of silence and prayed while serving meals and handing out toys with Sharpton at the Harlem headquarters of his National Action Network.
WABC-TV said widow Esaw Garner told the crowd she shares in the families’ suffering and would be more than happy to meet them.
Authorities say Brinsley had referenced Garner’s death on Instagram before shooting the officers.
Sharpton again condemned violence, saying anyone who doesn’t “is just trying to create a climate for their own political relevance.”
In a holiday statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mentioned the slain officers and urged people to “offer support to their families any way we can.”
CLEVELAND SEA OF BLUE RALLY PLANNED
A police dispatcher who organized a rally scheduled for Saturday in support of officers and invited 500 friends to it says thousands of people plan to attend.
Mary Jo Graves decided last Sunday to organize the Sea of Blue Support rally on Cleveland’s Public Square by creating a page on Facebook and inviting her friends. She said Thursday that more than 54,000 invites have been sent across the social media website and 4,000 people have indicated they plan to be there.
“I was hoping to get 100 people to stand with me at Public Square in support of officers, and it kind of blew up,” said Graves, who spent nearly 14 years as a Cleveland police dispatcher and the last six in suburban Brooklyn.
She said her campaign was prompted by the negative attention and protests directed at police recently.
There have been protests across the country since grand juries declined to indict white police officers involved in the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Garner. The fatal shooting of a 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was carrying a pellet gun has prompted numerous protests, including one that shut down a freeway at rush hour.
Graves, the sister of a Cleveland police officer, said she thought it was time to stand up in support of law enforcement.
New York police on Thursday said they had made a total of six arrests of people accused of threatening officers. A seventh man was arrested on gun charges after he was overheard making threats against officers and talking about guns in his home as he spoke on his cellphone at a Queens bank, police said. He was not charged with making threats, they said.