The leader of the NAACP said the murder of two NYPD officers over the weekend doesn’t show there’s a problem with protests against the police, but a problem with overall violence.
Cornell William Brooks told CBS on Sunday that it’s not fair for people to tie the shooting of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu to, as former New York Gov. George Pataki tweeted Saturday, “divisive anti-cop rhetoric” of Attorney General Eric Holder and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“First of all, on behalf of the NAACP, I extend my condolences to the families of these police officers,” Brooks said. “I don’t believe it’s fair because to link the criminal insanity of a lone gunman to the peaceful protests and aspirations of many people across the country, including the attorney general, the mayor, and even the president, is simply not fair.”
Gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed himself on a nearby subway platform, left a Facebook message stating, “I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today… They Take 1 Of Ours, Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner [sic] #RIPMikeBrown This May Be My Final Post… I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket.”
Brinsley’s mother reportedly told police that he was “often violent,” had attempted suicide and had a history of mental health treatment.
Brooks acknowledged the murders are “certainly not a step forward” in their protest goals.
“The fact of the matter is, in this country, we have a violence problem,” he said. “Think about it this way. The tears of the families of these police officers and the tears of Eric Garner’s family and Michael Brown’s family aren’t shed in law enforcement blue, racially, black or brown. They’re colorless. They’re tragic and unnecessary. We have a violence problem. And the policies that we’re pushing for protect not only the public, but police officers and the families that they hope to go to at the end of the day who are members of the public.”
Police reforms are just “part of a larger challenge of addressing violence in this country,” Brooks said.
“We can certainly push for federal, municipal and state legislation. But we have got to be clear here,” he said. “It is simply wrong to violate the Sixth Commandment in terms of thou shall not kill, whether you’re wearing a law — a police officer’s uniform or civilian clothes. That’s, quite simply, wrong.”
The NAACP issued an official statement Sunday condemning the murders of Liu and Ramos.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families of these officers and also pray for a speedy recovery of the third victim who was shot in Maryland yesterday by the same shooter. In no way does the NAACP support this act of vigilante justice by a troubled individual,” the statement said.
“While our criminal justice system is not without deep and divisive flaws, we know that police officers, who risk their own safety for ours, play a critical and necessary role in keeping every community safe. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the friends and the families of the slain officers. The loss of any life at the hands of violence is tragic. We who believe in peace and freedom, fairness and equality, understand that progress can only be achieved by intimate and intentional collaboration of law enforcement and community members.”