Open Season on Police Officers?

by Just Juan

“…if we can’t have justice, I’ll settle for revenge” – Fred Leon Ayler

This past Saturday, a couple of officers from the New York Police Department were killed in broad daylight as they sat in their cruiser in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The fallen officers were Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu while the assassin, who later committed suicide in a subway station, was 28-year-old Brooklyn-born Ismaaiyl Brinsley. According to reports, Brinsley shot his girlfriend in suburban Baltimore earlier in the day, fled to New York by bus and summarily executed the officers. Amongst the reasons he gave in a series of Instagram posts for this egregious crime was payback for the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

As I noted earlier this month in my opinions as a Black son, I get it: Black Americans are upset about the lives of Black men at the hands of White police officers. I’ve seen the extensive coverage of the protests on television and in the news. I’ve read the social media posts of friends of mine who are very much passionate about this stuff. But, at the end of the day, there is no place in this society for the broad daylight assassination of sworn law enforcement officers.

I’ve seen this before. 10 ½ years ago, in my native Birmingham, 3 police officers were killed and another was wounded as they served a misdemeanor arrest warrant inside of a known drug house on the city’s Westside. I remember being at home on military leave from the Air Force and seeing the live coverage on television. The shock of the moment was overwhelming. According to what I wrote in Triumphs & Tribulations IV, I felt “a little less safe”. The assailants—Kerry Spencer and Nathaniel Woods—were convicted of capital murder and currently sit on death row.

What Spencer and Woods did in Birmingham is definitely a frowned upon crime amongst almost all of the local population…regardless of what they may say about the involvement of Woods or the suspected corruption of one of the executed officers. The same cannot be said about what Brinsley did this past Saturday…at least not in a total sense. A great many on Facebook and Instagram are branding him as a hero for killing Ramos and Liu. The epigraph of this post is just a small sample of the dozens of posts I’ve read hailing him as a hero. And to be completely honest, it’s utterly disgusting.

I hope that what happened in Brooklyn a couple of days ago is a one-off. The worst possible thing that could happen now is civilians opening fire on police officers in a brazen fashion…with mostly illegally procured guns. Open season on cops actually makes life a great deal more difficult for all of us because the officers will be on edge and when people are on edge, composure is hard to maintain, and lost composure leads to colossal mistakes. A colossal mistake for the police officer just may result in the death of an unarmed civilian. I don’t want any of that and I don’t think the overwhelming majority of Americans—Black, White, or other—want it either.

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