The cold-blooded murders of New York police Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, has the entire country mourning rather than rejoicing at this time of year. The tragedy reminds everyone about the difficulties officers face every time they leave home, particularly in a city with 8.4 million people. New York has been one of the epicenters of protests every night since the news broke that a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict police officers who choked Eric Garner to death.
The killer, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, used Garner’s death and that of Michael Brown as justification for his actions, but both families condemned him and others who would use violence in the memory of their loved ones. Emerald Garner, Eric Garner’s daughter, said, at the memorial set up where the officers were killed, “I just had to come out and let their family know that we stand with them, and I’m going to send my prayers and condolences to all the families who are suffering through this tragedy.
Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said, “I’m standing here in sorrow about losing those two police officers. That was definitely not our agenda. We are going in peace.” Michael Brown’s family issued a statement following the murders, “We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for a halt to the protests until after the officers’ funerals. Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and a former police captain called for the same. Some of the responses he received were neither kind or thoughtful to the pain the officers’ families are undergoing. We would hope such sentiment is in the minority. Should the protests stop? Yes, for a number of reasons. It would show the world that even in protest, our people have compassion, and what greater way to honor Garner and Brown than to sympathize with families who have also suffered a sudden loss.
No matter what opinion we have about police and community relations, violence is not the answer. Violence only begets more violence.