I was already planning to write about this photo from Friday night’s small pro-police rally at NYC’s City Hall. That was before the shocking news yesterday that Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a black man from Baltimore had gunned down two NYPD cops as retribution, he said, for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Obviously, Twitter has been non-stop ever since.
One theme amongst people on the left in the flood of tweets has been to warn of, or protest against any drawing of equivalence:
Smooth Kobra (@smoothkobra) 12/20/14, 6:13 PM
People rightly upset at the NYPD murder–now imagine how you’d feel if this happened to a cop every 28 hours. #BlackLivesMatter
Shaun King (@ShaunKing) 12/20/14, 2:27 PM
Today you’ll hear exponentially more protestors grieve over murdered cops than you will ever hear cops grieve over murdered black boys/men.
The concern, as these quotes reflect, is that conservatives will use this heinous act to either excuse or bury the problem of profiling and excessive use of force against people of color.
If pro-police demonstrators were seen wearing t-shirts mockingly pushing back on the #ICan’tBreathe meme — one having echoed from social media, to protest rallies around the country to the chests of professional sports stars — yesterday’s act has completely altered the atmosphere. Twelve hours ago, conservatives and who-knows-how many police officers were feeling back on their heels. It’s too incendiary to say that Officers Liu and Ramos will be seen as martyrs, but this national storm over race and law enforcement — with a reconstituted array of victims — is going to feel that there’s certainly weight on both ends of the scales now.
As for the t-shirt and the hashtag, the version you’re looking at above has become completely obsolete. Certainly, people one the left are going to see red over this, but conservatives and police are probably already feeling that, after the carnage in Bed-Stuy, they can’t breathe either.
(photo: Steven W. Thrasher)