Police departments across the nation are taking extra precautions following the killing of two New York City police officers by a mentally troubled man who claimed the killings were in honor of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Activists and the families of the slain unarmed Black men, however, have been working quickly to encourage peace and distance the NYPD shooter from the movements that are truly tackling institutional racism.
The result has been an unspoken battle over who will maintain control of the media narrative following the execution style murders.
A clashing chorus of opinions and responses have been shared after NYPD officers Rafeal Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down in Brooklyn by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley.
A union-generated message was sent out to NYPD officers and warned them to wear bullet proof vests at all times, patrol with a partner and to avoid making arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”
A memo from an NYPD police chief also warned officers to keep any inflammatory comments off social media or any other public forum.
Many departments are taking that advice to heart.
Officers are creating a narrative of fear and announcing that extra precautions must be taken after the killing despite much evidence supporting the idea that this was an isolated incident.
Brinsley was troubled and believed to be mentally ill.
Outside of the Instagram post that came just before he murdered the officers, investigators have yet to find any real connection between Brinsley and the overall push for justice that followed after the killing of the unarmed Black men by police officers.
In the post, Brinsley said he was on a mission to put “wings on pigs” and seeking revenge in the name of slain Black men like Garner and Brown.
Some believe that Brinsley simply latched on to the cause to garner more attention for his violent rampage that began with him shooting his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, in Baltimore and ended with him shooting himself in the head in a busy New York subway station.
Thompson is expected to make a full recovery.
Meanwhile, Rev. Al Sharpton joined Eric Garner’s loved ones as they called for peace on Sunday at the Harlem headquarters of the National Action Network.
Sharpton made it clear that taking justice into one’s own hands was not a part of the “pursuit of justice.”
“This is a pursuit of justice to make the system work fairly for everyone,” Sharpton told the reporters. “This is not about taking things into our own hands. That doesn’t solve the problem of police misconduct.”
Esaw Garner, Eric Garner’s widow, reiterated that message.
“Please protest in a nonviolent way,” Garner said. “My husband was not a violent man so we don’t want violence attached to his name.”
Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, added that anyone acting in violence is not truly standing in solidarity with her son.
“We are for peace and anyone who’s standing with us, we want you to not use Eric Garner’s name for violence because we are not about that,” she said.
Sharpton also played a voicemail that was left on his phone that portrayed a very different narrative than the one the police have created.
The threatening voicemail suggested that activists and those pushing for justice are the ones who are really under attack.
“We are now under intense threat by those who are misguided and those who are trying to blame everyone from civil rights leaders to the mayor,” Sharpton said.
The voicemail not only took aim at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio but also threatened Sharpton’s life.
“Hey, n***a, stop killing innocent people, I’m going to get you,” the anonymous voice on the message said.
The voicemail is supportive of the misguided idea that the battle for justice is one great struggle between all citizens and all police officers.
“The recent brutal murder of two Brooklyn police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, is a national tragedy that should inspire nationwide mourning,” he wrote on a post published by TIME. “Both my grandfather and father were police officers, so I appreciate what a difficult and dangerous profession law enforcement is. We need to value and celebrate the many officers dedicated to protecting the public and nourishing our justice system.”
He also explained that the killing of these two officers is in no way related to the attack on institutional racism and should not be portrayed as such.
“At the same time, however, we need to understand that their deaths are in no way related to the massive protest against systemic abuses of the justice system as symbolized by the recent deaths—also national tragedies—of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Michael Brown.”
He explained that Brinsley’s actions were not those of a “sane man or rational activist” and that the “protests are no more to blame for his actions than ‘The Cather in the Rye’ was for the murder of John Lennon or the movie Taxi Driver for the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.”
Connecting the recent murders to the call of thousands of protesters pushing for justice is nothing more than a “cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors,” he added.
It’s a message that many believe former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani needs to listen to.
Giuliani has been adamantly blaming President Barack Obama, protesters and Black activists for the murders of the two officers.
The general response to an Instagram post by The Game is proof, however, that many people are not encouraging violence towards police officers in the wake of Garner’s death.
While the rapper insisted he was in no way trying to justify the deaths of the officers, a recent post of his on Instagram was met with serious backlash.
The Game posted a screen shot of an article announcing that two officers had been killed execution style as “revenge for Garner.”
After criticisms of the post started to pour in and take over digital media headlines, he posted a response to the critics, attempting to clarify his stance.
“The comment in my last post was a DIRECT RESPONSE to the picture above,” he wrote underneath the photo of three white pro police protesters who were wearing shirts that read “I can breathe.” “I didn’t say it was cool that 2 cops were murdered senselessly while sitting in their car. These weren’t the cop(s) that killed ERIC GARNER so it wasn’t necessary they die in that manner the same as it wasn’t AT ALL necessary ERIC GARNER die in the way he did.”
He also pointed out his use of the hashtag #AllLivesMatter.
The lengthy Instagram post also criticized the officers involved with Garner’s death, revealed The Game’s own struggles with racist law enforcement throughout his life and criticized people for trying to only find negativity in his post.