Following the shooting of two New York police officers by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, JetBlue announced that it would be offering free flights to police officers who wish to attend the cops’ funerals—but that announcement soon sparked outrage online.
JetBlue said it would offer free flights to two police officers from any American law enforcement agency that wished to send representatives to the funerals of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
The airline is also offering free flights to their family members and is working with another airline to provide transportation for Liu’s family in China.
The airline apparently considered it a harmless act of kindness, but online comments and social media posts revealed that not everybody thinks the free flights are a good idea.
In the midst of the many unarmed Black men who were killed at the hands of police officers, some social media users are questioning why the airline didn’t extend such a gracious offer to their families.
“Your organization doesn’t think that many of those who’d like to attend the funerals of people slain by cops would want to travel,” one user asked before adding, “or, perhaps, the protesters who would like to attend marches across the country might want to travel for free?”
Some users have already called for people to boycott the airline and others claimed that the free flights are a sign that JetBlue “supports police brutality.”
JetBlue officials recently released a statement explaining that the free flights are their way of supporting the communities they serve.
“We’re honored to do what we can to support the communities we serve, and our team has made flights available to law enforcement agencies across our route network who wish to send representatives to New York to support their brethren,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
The free flight offer for a limited number of officers comes at a time when the divide between law enforcement and the community has continued to widen, but not everybody who stands in solidarity with slain unarmed Black men found a problem with the flights.
One woman used the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter but also said the frustrations with JetBlue are “misguided.”
Both of the officers were killed execution style last weekend by a Black man who claimed the murders were “revenge” for Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The shooter, 28-year-old Brinsley, posted a warning about the attacks on social media.
Many activists have argued, however, that the murders should not be connected to the movements pushing for justice for Black victims of police brutality.
The families of the victims, including the Garner family, have expressed that they do not encourage violence as a response to the lack of indictments against officers who killed unarmed Black men.
Brinsley also shot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, in the stomach a few hours before shooting the officers.
Thompson is expected to survive.