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Murders broaden discussion of race-relations to include senseless murders of officers

By Miriam Raftery

December 23, 2014 (San Diego)--Police departments across the nation have reportedly been put on alert following the cold-blooded murder of two New York Police officers. The gunman, who was black, posted Instragram messages indicating he planned to kill officers as revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, two black men who were killed by white police  officers under controversial circumstances.

The killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, posted on Instagram, “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.” His hashtag included the phrase Shootthepolice  and RIP references to Gardner and Brown, Associated Press reported.

Then he approached a patrol car, shot and killed officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos at point blank. Ironically, Liu and Ramos are Asian and Hispanic, not white.

Only a decade ago, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center resulted in NYPD officers being hailed as heroes for their efforts to risk their lives in order to save others.

The San Diego Police Officers Association issued a statement indicated they are “deeply saddened by the senseless murders” of Officers Liu and Ramos and extend condolences to the slain officers’ family, the NYPD, and New York’s citizens.  The Association also denounced those who praised the actions of the killer and hailed the slain officers as “heroes.”

“Voices from throughout the nation have called out for justice, peace and respect for all lives,” the San Diego Police Officers Association statement continues. “As we enter the New Year, let us remember that all of these matter and we should choose our words wisely as we speak to one another in our efforts to unite our nation as never before.”

The SDPOA also urges the public to come forward and immediately report any possible threats against law enforcement.

The killer, Brinsley, reportedly used a traffic app called WAZE to track the officers movements, though the software is not updated in real time and not always reliable.  Brinsley had been arrested 15 times in Georgia and four in Ohio. He bought the murder weapon, a handgun, in 1996 at a Georgia pawn shop.

His mother has said he had a troubled childhood, often acted violent, and that she was afraid of him, Fox news reported.  

Before killing the police officers he shot and injured his girlfriend. After shooting the police officers, he fled to a subway station, where he shot  and killed himself. 

The killings prompted police departments across America to warn officers to beware of possible copycat violence targeting police.  Police officers in some areas were warned not to patrol alone, to minimize arrests and to wear bullet proof vests, Fox News reports.

The tragedy further highlights a racial divide in America. A CNN/ORC poll released Monday finds that 50 percent of white Americans believe the criminal justice system treats black fairly, but only 21 percent of non-white Americans agree. The majority (57 percent) of whites think none or almost none of the police in their area are prejudiced against blacks, but only 25 percent of non-whites share that belief.

A medical examiner in New York ruled that Eric Gardner died of a homicide as a result of a choke hold by an officer while 7 officers were present. He was unarmed, suspected of selling cigarettes without collecting taxes, and resisted efforts by police to move him along or take him into custody.  Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, was shot and killed by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri after he was asked to stop walking in the street.  He reportedly scuffled with an officer and then fled.  Witness accounts vary but some said he raised his hands as if to surrender before he was fatally shot.

Those killings sparked protests nationwide, along with a national discussion about racial relations and alleged excessive use of force by police.

Now, The killings of the NYPD police officers in cold blood shifts the focus to also include a discussion of the risks that officers face on the job and the equally senseless deaths of officers that sometimes occur.  According to a report released last month by the FBI, last year 76 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty. Of those, 27 were the result of felonious actions involving an offender; the other 49 died in accidents.  The felonious action deaths ranged from ambush situations to arrests, traffic pursuits, and answering disturbance calls.  The average age of officers killed in the line of duty was 39, with 13 years of law enforcement experience, according to the FBI.

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shifting the focus

Certainly both aspects should be considered, the senseless murders of Blacks and of police. And let's throw in the senseless murder of foreigners by the US, while we're at it. I believe that they are all connected, and that we ought to start at the top and then apply the same principle of brotherhood domestically and internationally. Happy holidays to all, with peace on earth and good will to men, and women too. Also children.