The recent ambush and killing of two NYC police officers is heartbreaking and wrong on every level. Violence is never the right path. Let me repeat that -- violence is never the right path.
However, I am struck by the huge disparity in response from when a cop kills an unarmed black man and when a black man kills a cop. Almost immediately after the news broke of the two NYC officers being killed, Reverend Al Sharpton and the families of Eric Garner and Michael Brown expressed their outrage over the killings.
"We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities," Michael Brown's family said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers' families during this incredibly difficult time."
"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," the statement said. "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."
I was at the "Justice for All" march in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2014. It was peaceful and there was not one incident of violence. The message repeated by every speaker at the march, including the families of unarmed black men who were killed by police, was unequivocally clear: violence towards police or anyone is unacceptable. The message that was echoed repeatedly that day was that we weren't marching against police, but against police violence.
After an endless Internet search, I have yet to find a single police officer or police organization that expressed similar outrage over any of the recent killings of unarmed black men by police officers. And therein lies the difference and biggest problem with the response around a cop killing an unarmed black man and a black man killing a cop. As long as good cops turn a blind-eye on the violent actions of some cops, nothing will ever change.
The police don't like when people use unfair stereotypes and assume all cops are bad. Yet somehow they use the same unfair stereotyping when they say all protesters, and by proxy black people, are bad.
"There's blood on many hands tonight," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch. "Those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated."
Shame on Patrick Lynch. He is fueling hate while the families of the recent unarmed black men killed are simply demanding peace and justice. The vast majorities of protesters, like myself, are peaceful and vocally condemn all violence including the violence some protesters have exhibited. The kind of prejudice and stereotyping exhibited by Patrick Lynch flames the situation and does no good. Even more egregious is when the heads of police organizations calls black athletes "pathetic" for wearing t-shirts supporting unarmed black men killed by police officers. Those accusations reek of disrespect and racism.
I am thankful every single day for the good men and women who serve as police officers. I have many friends who are cops and pray for their safety. Many of these friends have privately expressed their outrage over the killing of Eric Garner. However, until good cops break the code of silence and openly express their outrage against the violent actions of some cops, this volatile situation will never change and violence will continue on every front. The right thing for humanity is to be vocal against police violence and to be vocal against violence towards police. If you only support one, you are part of the problem. All lives matter.