UPDATED Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 10:05 a.m., E.T. – A politically divisive firestorm has erupted in reaction to the killing of 2 police officers by a man who vowed on social media to “put wings on pigs” in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. New York police union head Pat Lynch placed the blame for the shootings at the feet of New York City’s liberal mayor Bill de Blasio. Capital New York reports that in a press conference Saturday evening, Lynch said, “There’s blood on many hands tonight….That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the Office of the Mayor.”
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Lynch has criticized New York’s mayor of not being supportive enough of police in the wake of a Staten Island grand jury’s decision to not indict police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Garner. New York City has seen mass protests in the wake of that decision, which have been largely peaceful. However, a couple of police officers have been attacked, and a widely-publicized video showed protesters calling for “dead cops.”
In a press conference on Dec. 3 de Blasio called the grand jury decision one “that many in our city did not want,” and said that Garner’s death was “a great tragedy.” He said the case made him think about the “dangers” his 17-year-old biracial son, Dante, may face when interacting with police, and encouraged peaceful protest. Lynch said de Blasio’s comments threw police officers “under the bus.”
Saturday, several officers turned their backs on the mayor at the hospital where New York Police Department Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu died after being slain by Ismaaiyl Brinsley. In remarks at a press conference there, deBlasio said that the city was “in mourning” over the deaths, and asked all New Yorkers to pray for them and their families.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama gave the following statement:
I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City. Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification. The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day – and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day. Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal – prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.
UPDATED Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 8:39 p.m., E.T. – The victims have been identified as New York Police Department Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, according to Associated Press. Before killing them, Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and wounded his former girlfriend in the Baltimore area prior to the execution-style shootings of Ramos and Liu. She was not killed, as previously reported in this post. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder denounced the killings as “an unspeakable act of barbarism,” and vowed, “I will make available all of the resources of the Department [of Justice] to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy.”
A lone gunman shot and killed two uniformed NYPD officers Saturday afternoon as they sat in their police car on a Brooklyn street corner — in what investigators are alleging was an “execution-style mission” to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown,” according to the New York Post
Brown and Garner were two unarmed black men killed by the police, and whose deaths sparked nation wide protests.
The killer, who allegedly shot and wounded his girlfriend earlier that morning in Baltimore, walked up alongside a parked police car, and shot into it. He then ran from the bloody scene and down onto a subway platform, where he turned the gun on himself as police closed in on him.
Although the suspect’s name has not been officially released, reports have identified him as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28. The Post released screenshots of the alleged gunman’s Instagram account, which read in part, “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today.”
The IG post included an image of silver automatic handgun with a wooden handle. “They Take 1 Of Ours … Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post continued. #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGarner [sic] #RIPMikeBrown, and finally, “This May Be My Final Post. I’m Putting Pigs In a Blanket.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has worked closely with both the Brown and Garner family, released a statement a few hours after the murders via his National Action Network:
“I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today. 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.
We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.
We plan to hold a press conference in the morning to express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department. Details to follow.”
The Post quoted witnesses on the scene of the crime said, and one, Derrick McKie, 49 was quoted as saying, “It sounded like from a single gun,” he said. Ambulances and police cars rushed to the scene, he said.
“I seen them putting the cop in the ambulance. He looked messed up,” McKie, a barber, added. “He took a high caliber weapon to the face. He was lifeless…I couldn’t see where the holes was at, all I could see was blood. His body was lifeless.”