NYPD Union President Evokes Fear in Black New Yorkers in Aftermath Police Shootings
Black New Yorkers are feeling more threatened than ever in the aftermath of the double homicide of two police officers this weekend in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.
It was just hours after officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot and killed by a lone gunman, when police union president Patrick Lynch further inflamed tensions between the police and the minority community during a divisive and incendiary speech to the media.
"There's blood on many hands tonight," Lynch said. "Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn, 'It must not go on. It cannot be tolerated.' That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor [Bill de Blasio]. When these funerals are over, those responsible will be called on the carpet and held accountable."
Given that the shooter, Ismaiiyl Brinsley, is dead, many New Yorkers are wondering who Lynch is suggesting be "called on the carpet." Brinsley took his own life while being pursued by cops after the shooting, according to the New York Daily News, and there is no indication that he had accomplices.
Outside of the Tomkins Houses, where the shooting took place, an African American man who declined to give his name had plenty to say about how he felt Lynch went too far when he suggested, according to a widely circulated memo, that the NYPD was in "wartime" status.
"Absolutely not," the man told me. "There is no war agaist the NYPD. Who is going to war against the NYPD? It's like an Army itself. Who is going to war against the NYPD? Nobody. It's all nonsense. Patrick Lynch has to go. You cannot separate the cops from the mayor. That's a no-no. His intentions are not positive for the city."
When asked if he feels the police could become more aggressive toward black citizens, he replied, "Of course."
Traffic jammed the corner of Myrtle and Tomkins Avenue, as local and national media descended on the scene to capture the growing shrine memorializing the two murdered officers. Many residents came to honor the memories of Officers Liu and Ramos.
Others, like Shaquille Harder, 20, who was standing near the memorial, said he was concerned the police would now view the entire black community with more suspicion.
"They'll be more aggressive towards us, definitely towards teenagers in the community," Harder said. "If they were aggressive before, they'll be more aggressive than ever."
In the last few months, several videos of police officers beating unarmed black teenagers, sometimes in handcuffs, sometimes in the process of surrendering have emerged. On Friday a video of a plainclothes officer punching a subdued 12-year-old to the horror of people assembled nearby was published here.
Also troubling was Lynch's threat against the largely peaceful protesters who have been demonstrating on the streets of New York ever since a grand jury declined to indict the police officer responsible for Staten Island resident Eric Garner's death. The protesters are demanding reform of the police tactics that have led to the brutalization and deaths of many black New Yorkers.
There is no evidence to suggest that Brinsley, a resident of Baltimore, Md., who also shot his ex-girlfriend Shaneka Nicole Thompson, 29, before coming to New York on an apparent mission to kill cops, participated in any anti-police brutality protests. But that has not stopped many on social media from joining Lynch in blaming protesters for the shooting. Soon after news broke of the attack, the hashtag #NYPDLivesMatter began trending. Many of the commenters suggest that protesters ratcheted up anti-police sentiment that led to the officers in Brooklyn being killed. Some even claim black-on-black violence is the culprit.
But community resident Antoine Barksdale told AlterNet that Lynch's remarks are the problem and have caused the kind of divisive rhetoric in the city that wrongfully places blame on black New Yorkers who had nothing to do with the shooting.
"Patrick Lynch needs to apologize, not only to Mayor de Blasio, but also to Commissioner Bratton for his disrespect shown last night at Woodhall Hospital by instructing the police union members to turn their backs on their commander-in-chief," Barksdale, 45, said. "If there is to be any civility from the police department, it has to start with the checking of its union [president] Patrick Lynch. I believe he created more of a [negative] atmosphere than any protester could have ever done."
Watch Patrick Lynch's speech below: