Quotes of the day

Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling on New Yorkers to focus on the families of two slain NYPD officers in the coming days as tensions continue to run high between the mayor and police.

Speaking Monday at the Police Athletic League luncheon, de Blasio said it’s time to put aside political debates and protests until officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu are laid to rest.

“Let’s accompany these families on their difficult journeys. Let’s see them through the funerals. Then, debate can begin again,” he said. “I think it’s a time for everyone to put aside political debates, put aside protests, put aside all of the things that we will talk about in all due time.”


The first assassination of an NYPD officer since the 1988 ambush of Edward Byrne has rattled the rank-and-file — and prompted cops to adopt drastic “wartime” policing tactics not seen since the 1970s.

“At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be,” an e-mail widely circulated among cops advised Saturday night…

The memo also pointed to potential slowdowns in arrest and ticketing activity: “IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest,” the statement said…

“We have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ Police Department,” the message concluded. “We will act accordingly. FORWARD MESSAGE IN ITS ENTIRETY TO ANY AND ALL [members of the service.]”


In New York the marches could have been used as training films for other police departments. The cops were restrained and respectful. The men and women wearing the uniform were more diverse than the crowds they protected as they helped them proceed along streets, displaying their grievances. All of it, with only a few exceptions, was peaceful.

Simmering beneath the surface though was the clear divide between a patrol force recognized as the finest in the country, if not the world, and a mayor, de Blasio, who has by word and action divided himself from the one municipal department that provides citizens with something necessary to keep a city breathing and moving forward daily: a sense of security.

Most cops are not looking for understanding. They work in a world filled with a sense—real or imagined—of danger lurking around each corner and every hallway. Most cops are merely looking for respect…

So who will hit the streets to galvanize support and express rage over the execution of two young men killed because of who they were and what they did for work? How many of those who protested will rush to the side of Rafael Ramos’ two sons? How many will be there for the young widow of Wenjian Liu, married only two months?


Especially in urban America, the police walk that line between civilization and mayhem every day. Yet since the Garner and Brown episodes, the progressive leaders in New York and Washington have talked and behaved as if the police are society’s main problem.

They have honored with joint public appearances and private meetings such racial agitators as Al Sharpton who want to stop the “broken windows” policing that has done so much to reduce crime in poor minority neighborhoods. Mr. Holder has sent federal agents to second-guess grand juries and “reform” local police as if he assumes these police chiefs and prosecutors are biased. The New York City Council staged a “die-in” as fallen victims of police.

And progressives have failed to denounce protestors who have disrupted civic life, rampaged through stores, and even assaulted police who tried to arrest law-breakers. All of this has contributed to a public climate of suspicion and hate against police in which a man like Ismaaiyl Brinsley can in his deranged mind think it is justified to stalk and execute two cops on the beat.


One was the unquestioning acceptance of the narrative of police wrongdoing and racism in the killing of Brown and the far more questionable death of Garner by both the media and political leaders. This involved not only the willingness of both celebrities and lawmakers to treat myths, such as the claim that Brown had his hands up when he was shot, as fact. It also involved the casual acceptance of the charge of racism on the part of ordinary cops around the nation in the absence of any real proof as well as the shouting down of those like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who sought to defend the role of the police in defending the black community rather than attacking it.

Just as reprehensible was the willingness to ignore the calls for violence against the police on the part of so many of those who took to the streets about Ferguson and Garner. While stray comments on the part of a handful of Tea Partiers became the foundation for conventional-wisdom dismissal of their movement as racist or violent, the anti-police chants at mass demonstrations were largely ignored, rationalized, or excused. The same is true of comments like those of Farrakhan delivered in Baltimore where the killer of the two policemen lived.

But just as the murder of two cops doesn’t necessarily excuse the actions of the police in the Garner case, neither should we forget that all too many public figures have accepted with very little evidence the assumptions about racism and violence that have done so much to besmirch the reputation of the police. Rather than working to connect the dots between the comments of the president, the attorney general, and the mayor to a murder that none of them wished for, sensible observers should instead be unraveling the even shakier narrative these figures helped create about police misbehavior and racism.


[F]or the last several months, responsible behavior has been on short supply among our elites. So many rushed to abandon their roles as objective leaders to don the clothing of community organizers, accuse cops of pervasive racism, and allege that not only is the “system” intrinsically racist, but the very essence of the justice system needed to be jettisoned. Again, without a shred of evidence that racist cops or institutions caused the deaths of either Brown or Garner.

So “leaders” ranging from the president to the attorney general to the mayor of the nation’s largest city engaged in opportunistic bouts of moral preening that gave credence to claims that police were engaged in a nationwide war against black males. The most powerful man on earth invited Al Sharpton to the White House, seemingly unconcerned (or perhaps expecting) that such an invitation would necessarily grant legitimacy to the propaganda that cops were mowing down blacks across the land. Colleges gave precious students dispensation to recover from the fraudulent trauma of black genocide perpetrated by racist cops. An almost delirious media slanted their reporting to support that there is, in fact, a war being waged by the entire law-enforcement apparatus of the United States against blacks. Again, without an iota of proof that Brown and Garner were victims of a racist regime. And, without even a nod to the fact that blacks are more than 60 times as likely to be killed by other blacks than by cops of any race. Narrative, after all, trumps facts…

The responsibility for the shootings in New York rests with the shooter.

But the responsibility for the worst racial climate in two generations lies largely with the demagogues in our nation’s leadership who are too busy whining about the horrors of being mistaken for a valet to do the hard work of confronting the country’s toughest challenges.


The national dialogue on proper and effective policing has been totally distorted. Activists purporting to represent the majority of the black community have been bolstered by a 24 hour news cycle that gives them unwarranted credibility. I do not believe for one minute that Al Sharpton represents the feelings of most hardworking, law abiding black American families. I know through dozens of community meetings during my time as NYC Police Commissioner that what the black community wants most is what we all want—a safe environment in which to live their lives…

When Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley brutally executed Officers Ramos and Liu he did so in an atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years in law enforcement. The rhetoric this time is not from the usual suspects, but from the Mayor of New York City, the Attorney General of the United States, and even the President. It emboldens criminals and sends a message that every encounter a black person has with a police officer is one to be feared. Nothing could be further from the truth. We will never know what was in the mind of Brinsley when he shot officers Ramos and Liu. However we do know that he has seen nothing but police bashing from some of the highest officials in the land…

I have given the eulogy at the funerals of too many police officers, most killed in the line of duty defending our citizens during the commission of a crime. When our officers go in harm’s way they need to know that they have the support of their leaders at all levels of government. The President should declare a national day of Support for Police. He should send a clear message to all criminals that he appreciates the willingness of officers like Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu to sacrifice their lives, and that their lives have meaning. Perhaps their families should be present at the next State of the Union.


The loudest response came from Patrick Lynch, the president of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. “There’s blood on many hands tonight,” he said. “Those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what NYPD officers did every day.”…

[T]here is a yawning gap between the kind of reforms demanded by de Blasio and the protesters and open hostility to police. Hundreds of deaths caused by police officers have gone unreported in federal statistics since 2007. Overly aggressive policing—such as the stop-and-frisk policies that de Blasio made a point of reforming—victimizes minorities across the country. While police claim they’ve been unfairly vilified by protesters over isolated incidents, Lynch and others are guilty of doing the same by denouncing the protesters for the actions of one hateful man, Ismaaiyl Brinsley.  

The cops who claim Garner protesters have Liu and Ramos’s blood on their hands also seem to have forgotten what their job entails. Police don’t just enforce the law and keep the public safe, but also protect every single citizen’s fundamental rights—including the right of free speech. Lynch, the PBA president, and others who agree with him would do well to remember the oath every New York City officer gives when he accepts the job…


His big rhetorical faux pas was to admit that he’s taught his biracial son Dante to be “very careful” in encounters with law enforcement; to reveal himself to be a good parent, and restate a blindingly obvious fact about racial disparities in policing; and to say that the peaceful protesters—not the violent fringe—have a decent point.

Obama has expressed similar sympathies with peaceful protesters and black communities where distrust of law enforcement runs high. But he’s constantly prefaced those sympathies with severe condemnations of violence and stressed that the problems in these communities can be solved without radical change. The organizing principle of the protest movement is a decidedly non-radical complaint—that the criminal justice system shouldn’t break down any time the person involved in a homicide is a police officer.

Liberal political leaders in America don’t lionize fringe figures. Republicans treated Cliven Bundy like a martyr until an embarrassingly predictable racist outburst made him politically radioactive. The right wing demands this kind of genuflection; the left does not.

When Obama or de Blasio or Al Sharpton says young black men should consider Second Amendment remedies to their Fifth Amendment grievances, then we can condemn liberals for engaging in irresponsible rhetoric. The irony is that in attempting to hold a mirror up to liberalism, Giuliani, Lynch, and other likeminded critics became the only mainstream political figures in the country to serve up reckless rhetoric since Michael Brown was killed four months ago.


Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors. This is the same strategy used when trying to lump in the violence and looting with the legitimate protestors, who have disavowed that behavior. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims…

This shrill cry of “policism” (a form of reverse racism) by Pataki and the police unions is a hollow and false whine born of financial self-interest (unions) or party politics (Republican Pataki besmirching Democrat de Blasio) rather than social justice. These tragic murders now become a bargaining chip in whatever contract negotiations or political aspirations they have…

In a Dec. 21, 2014 article about the shooting, the Los Angeles Times referred to the New York City protests as “anti-police marches,” which is grossly inaccurate and illustrates the problem of perception the protestors are battling. The marches are meant to raise awareness of double standards, lack of adequate police candidate screening, and insufficient training that have resulted in unnecessary killings. Police are not under attack, institutionalized racism is. Trying to remove sexually abusive priests is not an attack on Catholicism, nor is removing ineffective teachers an attack on education. Bad apples, bad training, and bad officials who blindly protect them, are the enemy. And any institution worth saving should want to eliminate them, too.


[T]he suggestion that those who chanted these words [“dead cops!”] somehow “caused” or are “culpable” for the actions of a killer strikes me as a real stretch — as, for that matter, does the proposition that “anti-police protestors” bear some sort of collective “responsibility” for what happened on Saturday. Unless I am very much mistaken, nobody who chanted their death-wishes proposed any concrete action whatsoever. Nobody singled out a target or discussed tactics or agreed to return later with weapons. Nobody established a training camp or organized a rendezvous point or planted a bomb. Indeed, nobody did anything much at all. As is now clear, there were no ”mobs” or “groups of rioters” involved in the murders at all. Rather, some members within a group of peaceful protestors said something terrible (if abstract), and a troubled man in another locale went on a killing spree. Were these two events in some way correlated? Perhaps, yes. There is no doubt that the man intended to target cops in New York. But can we establish causation, or even blame? Nope.

All told, those of us who value robust free expression should be extremely reluctant to so casually transmute “there may have been a vague connection between these words and these actions” into “those who spoke the most forcefully are morally culpable and their entire movement should be shunned in consequence.” This latter approach was preposterous back when Sarah Palin was blamed for the shooting of Gabby Giffords. It was bizarre when the shooting at the Family Research Council was blamed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (sophomoric) “hate map.” It was farcical when the Isla Vista shooting was blamed on “white privilege” and “rape culture.” It was ridiculous when Timothy McVeigh was blamed on “militias” or on talk radio. And it is wrong in this case, too. Words, as ever, do not pull triggers, however harsh those words may be.


Nick Gillespie’s argument that people who kill other people should be held completely accountable for those killings is correct. The problem we have in the current discussion of #BlackLivesMatter is that some of the discussion has been about collective guilt.

One of the regrettable things about the recent call for a less militarized and better community policing is that it seems to have been if not taken over then at least dramatically influenced by that sort of professional protesting contingent of socialists and communists. What began as a potentially constructive conversation about the militarization of police forces; failures maintaining community policing standards; and how those problems affect certain communities disproportionately has unfortunately become mostly a droning monologue of political correctness and groupthink…

Conservatives are probably always going to be blamed by the New York Times for any and all ills, no matter how far-fetched the claim will be. But those who believe in individual responsibility can’t pick and choose when to believe in it. These cops were killed by one man, acting alone. We will likely learn more in the days to come about his political inclinations, his mental state, and his response to political rhetoric. If there is one thing that fair-minded people have learned from the media’s rush to blame conservatives for any and all violence, it’s that the actual story usually ranges from complete fabrication to very complicated tale.

Yes, the media and those activists who hold double standards should be held to account. But there is very little to gain by actually falling down the rabbit hole of reflexive movement blaming with them.



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David Strom 8:41 PM on January 30, 2023