May 30, 2024

Choosing Sides

Today was a bad day to be a police officer – 2 New York City cops were murdered execution-style by career criminal Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Brinsley, who had shot his girlfriend hours before, committed suicide in a subway tunnel after the murders.

From the article:

Mayor de Blasio and Police Comissioner Bill Bratton addressed the media at Woodhull, where hundreds of cops gathered in the wake of the shooting. Bratton spoke first, identifying the slain officers as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. He also identified their killer: 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley. “They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform,” said Bratton. According to the NYPD chief, Brinsley, “Took a shooting stance on the passenger side and fired his weapon several times through the front passenger window, striking both officers in the head.”

“Officer Ramos and Officer Liu never had the opportunity to draw their weapons,” he continued. “They may never have had the chance to see their murderer.” Bratton also confirmed that Brinsley, whose last known residence was in Georgia, shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore on Saturday morning before traveling to New York. According to the Baltimore Sun, the 29-year-old woman is currently in a hospital in serious condition.

Bratton said that Brinsley appeared to have “a very strong bias” against cops, and that he had used Instagram to threaten violence against them earlier today. “They Take 1 Of Ours….. Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner [sic] #RIPMikeBrown This May Be My Final Post,” said a post featuring a handgun. “I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket.”

In an ironic, but hardly surprising, bit of waffling, Al Sharpton – who in recent weeks has been busily agitating against police departments all over the United States – had this to say:

“I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today,” Sharpton said in a statement. “Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.”

Sharpton’s backpedalling doesn’t mitigate his involvement in – and partial responsibility for – these killings.  Such is the power of the bully pulpit and make no mistake, Sharpton is a bully who uses his race as a weapon.

In fairness, the reprehensible Sharpton’s involvement with the Brown-Garner protests doesn’t mean that police killings are not a problem.  Cops are employed by the people to serve and protect, not to act as executioners, and public oversight of their actions is both right and necessary.  In our system, that oversight is ultimately the function of the grand jury and, the protests to the contrary, both cases were thoroughly reviewed by citizen panels.  Although the decisions weren’t to the rioters satisfaction, justice was probably served – to the extent possible.  I say probably, because justice is not – and can never be – a binary function, not in cases like these.

But today’s police killings are another thing entirely.

Nearly simultaneously, more protesters disrupted business at Minneapolis’ Mall of America.

12 people were arrested for protesting illegally on private property, but no major violence was reported.

Black lives do matter.  They do.  However, they do not matter more than anyone else’s.  That is the definition of equality and this point is a non-negotiable truth of American life.

The problem with the anti-police protests and Sharpton’s race-baiting demagoguery is that both ignore another fundamental American truth, which is that minorities commit a vastly disproportionate number of crimes in this country.

The African-American population accounts for approximately 12% of American citizens, but according to the US Department of Justice, blacks accounted for 52.5% of homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008.  Similarly, in 2008, black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery.

I feel obligated to defend these statistics by reminding the reader that the data have nothing to do with racism – they represent hard, cold facts.  Unfortunate, but nonetheless true.

The corollary to these statistics is that, the more crimes a group of citizens commits, the more run-ins members of that group are going to have with with police.  So, it’s hardly surprising that African-Americans are “disproportionately” involved in violent encounters with police, relative to their percentage of the overall population.

Another blow to the myth of African-American’s being unfairly targeted for killing by whites is the fact that most murders are intra-racial, with 93% of black victims murdered by blacks.  In contrast, 84% of white homicide victims murdered by whites, meaning that, if anything, the exact opposite is true.  But that is a subject for another time.

In the moment, what is important to realize is that this country’s police forces are not in the business of oppressing the citizenry, regardless of their race, creed, or color.  Criminals are criminals and the law is the law.  Everyone in America knows the rules of behavior and the consequences for violating those rules.  Being a criminal is an active choice these people make.  This cannot be denied, even by men like Al Sharpton.

Regardless of the Brown-Garner cases, the choice before us is simple:  If Sharpton and the worst of those whose passions he has chosen to inflame are going to deliberately stalk and execute police officers, the American people will have to choose sides between those who enforce law-and-order and those who circumvent and destroy it.


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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