Socialist Worker

New York cops ramp up backlash against civil rights protests

US cops have launched an offensive against calls for an end to police brutality, writes Annette Mackin

Issue No. 2435

Protesting against police shootings in New York last month

Protesting against police shootings in New York last month (Pic: The All-Nite Images / Flickr)


Police in New York have used the shooting of two officers to ramp up the backlash against protests calling for justice for victims of police brutality.

Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed last month by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a mentally ill man who had a history of being harassed by police.

Before the shootings he wrote online, “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPEricGardner #RIPMikeBrown”

New York cops killed father of six Eric Garner last July after putting him in a chokehold. 

Then in August police in Ferguson, Missouri, shot dead teenager Michael Brown. Grand juries looked at each killing and decided not to prosecute any officers.

Police justified their deaths by claiming the men had either been violent or resisting arrest.

This is in stark contrast to the shooting of Liu and Ramos whose deaths were described as an “assassination”.

Days before the killing some 200 New York police officers and their supporters demonstrated outside city hall.

They wore T-shirts reading “I can breathe”—a sick twist on Eric Garner’s dying words “I can’t breathe” as he was held in the chokehold.

Cops have used the officers’ deaths to further try and undermine the civil rights protests, which have seen tens of thousands march across the US.

At the end of last month officers took part in a deliberate slowdown of duty in protest at New York mayor Bill de Blasio.

Police

They say his apparent support for the protesters led to the shooting of two police officers in the city last month.

The white mayor De Blasio said he and his black wife had advised their son Dante to “take special care” when encountering any police officers.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said, “De Blasio, Sharpton and all those who encouraged this anti-cop, racist mentality all have blood on their hands”.

And cops are now claiming it is them who are under real threat of danger. After the killing of Ramos and Liu the New York Police Department was put on “high alert”.

But it’s clear it’s the police who are the threat. In the 15 years before the shooting of Liu and Ramos, New York police alone have shot 179 people dead. Of those, 86 percent were black. 

Compare that to the 13 officers who were killed in the line of duty in the same period. One of them, Omar Edwards, was accidentally killed by fellow officers. 

And the police killings have not stopped. In December, Antonio Martin was shot by cops in a 

St Louis neighbourhood just two miles from where Michael Brown was killed in August.

Black Lives Matter protests are continuing across the country and solidarity events are planned internationally. From 23-30 January Ferguson activist Reverend Osagyefo Sekou will be taking part in a speaking tour in Britain. 

For details of speaking tour go to fergusonsolidaritytour.com

If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.