Just before 3PM on Saturday, two New York police officers were ambushed and assassinated by a single gunman as they sat in their marked cruiser in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Despite weeks of inciting protests, almost immediately MSNBC’s Al Sharpton put out a statement denouncing the murders.
Killed were officers Wenjian Liu, 32, a seven-year veteran, and Rafael Ramos, 40, who had been with the department since 2012.
The murderer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, has been identified as a member of the Black Guerilla Family, an offshoot of the Black Panthers, a group he joined when he was in prison in California. Police revealed that Brinsley had posted several entries on social media warning that he was about to take actions in retaliation for the death of New Yorker Eric Garner, the man who died as police were attempting to arrest him in July. On the heels of the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, the non-indictment for Garner’s death sparked massive protests against police.
Despite presiding over many of these anti-police protests where he touted the chant “No Justice, No Peace,” Sharpton said in a statement that he was “outraged” by the murderous attack on the two officers.
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.
Sharpton followed that up with an even more strongly-worded statement on Twitter.
“I am outraged at the killing of 2 police officers in Brooklyn. That is why we stress non violence as the only way to fight for justice,” Sharpton tweeted. “An eye for an [eye] leaves the whole world blind. We all at NAN express our prayers and condolences to the families of the 2 NYC officers.”
The platitudes did not satisfy retired NYPD detective Harry Houck who appeared on CNN to discuss the murders. He denounced Sharpton’s ubiquitous protests as being “predicated on lies.” He went on to say, “We have two dead police officers, and I guess Al Sharpton got what he wanted.”
Also on Saturday, despite repeatedly siding with protesters over the police and announcing support for those who oppose police, Obama Attorney General Eric Holder came out with his own statement denouncing the murders.
I condemn this afternoon’s senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms. This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.
On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers’ loved ones and colleagues. I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy.
This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens. As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.
Our nation must always honor the valor — and the sacrifices — of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that’s fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side.
Finally, on Saturday afternoon New York Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference denouncing the murders. But de Blasio has also sided with forces aligned against his own officers evoking the ire of New York’s finest.
Police have been at odds with the mayor over his many anti-police statements, so much so that only days ago New York City’s police union warned the mayor that he is unwelcome at any funerals of police officers. And as de Blasio made his way to his press conference about today’s shooting, dozens of policemen turned their backs on him as he walked down the hall.
That same night the city’s police union chief also condemned de Blasio and those who have been attacking his fellow officers.
“There is blood on many hands tonight–those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York police officers did every day,” NYPD union president Pat Lynch said on Saturday night. “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.