OP-ED: All Lives Matter • Long Beach Post

On December 20, 2014, two NYPD police officers were assassinated while seated in their marked police car in a housing project in Brooklyn. The suspect, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, first shot his girlfriend in the stomach in Baltimore County, MD, then traveled to Brooklyn where he posted messages on the girlfriend’s Instagram account threatening police officers, before murdering NYPD officers Wenjian Liu, 32 and Rafael Ramos, 40.

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Using the Instagram hashtags “Shootthepolice”, “RIPErivGardner” (sic), and “RIPMikeBrown”, Brinsley posted this comment:

“I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”

Many are arguing that this despicable murder had nothing to do with more peaceful protests around the nation that developed after two Grand Juries in two different states declined to prosecute police officers in the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York.

Unfortunately Brinsley’s chosen Instagram hashtags make it quite clear that, in his mind at least, the murders he was about to commit were directly related to those national news stories.

In response to the assassination, National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury said, in part:

“Politicians have spent the months since the tragedy in Ferguson piously wringing their hands and bemoaning the lack of trust of police by the minority community. Mayors and Congressmen and Senators and professional racists from all sides have seized on the moment to advance their often self-serving opinions of what is wrong in America as a hyperventilating media nods knowingly and faithfully reports each and every word.”

LBPOA President Steve James is reported to have endorsed Canterbury’s comments, calling them “well said.”

Brinsley’s chosen response is but part of the challenge when public protests develop over information that is largely false. People like Brinsley (who took his own life shortly after murdering Liu and Ramos) become inflamed by anti-police rhetoric and oft-repeated falsehoods and decide to take violent action in response.

As difficult as it has proven for many in Long Beach and across the nation to accept, the totality of the facts in both the tragic Brown and Garner killings by police demonstrate that there was no criminal intent on the part of the officers involved. This does not necessarily mean the officers did nothing wrong, only that if they did something wrong it did not rise to the level of a prosecutable crime.

There remain other investigations which may develop other non-criminal findings of responsibility on the part of the officers who caused those tragic deaths. Those investigations will result in their own findings.

Shortly after the tragic shooting in Ferguson, one of Brown’s friends came forward and claimed, among other things, that when Off. Wilson shot Brown, Brown was on his knees, had raised his hands, and was giving up. This version -which has since been proven completely false and retracted by the witness- soon became the genesis for the anti-police protest chant “Hands up, don’t shoot” which quickly swept the nation and which can still be heard in protests to this day, almost five months later.

Let’s be absolutely clear: “Hands up, don’t shoot” is a public statement of anti-police outrage that was based in a story that was and remains completely false.

Eric Garner died tragically on July 17th, while resisting arrest and after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo applied a takedown move which many across the nation have, accurately or not, been calling a chokehold. In an amateur video snippet recorded during the incident, Garner is heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” before he tragically died as a result of compression of the neck, compression of the chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police, with contributing factors listed as asthma, heart disease, and obesity.

Garner’s “I can’t breathe” became the genesis for still another statement of anti-police outrage currently heard in protests across the nation even though the police were clearly not the sole cause for the difficulty he had in breathing during his arrest.

Still another statement of anti-police outrage currently heard and seen in protests across the nation is “Black Lives Matter,” even though there is not one single fact that demonstrates that the tragic Brown or Garner killings, or the decisions not to indict the officers, had anything to do with race. The sergeant who was in charge during the Garner arrest is black. Multiple members of both grand juries are black. The implied allegation of racism in the chant “Black Lives Matter” —in the context of these tragic deaths—is entirely groundless. Yet we continue to hear and see it in these protests.

Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently heard and saw all of these false and misleading anti-police statements too and they appear to have convinced him that he needed to assassinate two police officers in response.

Michael Brown’s life mattered, which is why he should not have robbed a convenience store and then assaulted a police officer, twice, when confronted afterward.

Eric Garner’s life mattered, which is why he should not have been breaking the law and then resisted arrest when police tried to enforce it, particularly in light of his various health challenges.

Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s life mattered, which is why he should not have chosen to commit suicide.

And the lives of Officers Liu and Ramos mattered, which is why Brinsley should not have assassinated them just for being police officers and based upon anti-police outrage over in-custody deaths, the facts about which have been greatly misconstrued, unreasonably inflated, or falsified altogether.

So far in 2014, 58 police officers in the United States have been feloniously killed just for trying to do the jobs the public pays them to do. All of their lives mattered, too.

All lives matter….not just black lives and not just cop lives. All lives.

I sincerely hope that as we move into the New Year, we all make greater efforts to remember that.

The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Long Beach Post, nor its editorial staff.

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