The congressman who represents the district in which NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were slain said the Big Apple is going to have to “come together as a city to repair the damaged relationship between the police and the community.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) had spoken out in the aftermath of deaths at the hands of police in Ferguson and Staten Island, telling CNN at the time that he was “really struggling as a father as to what to say to my oldest son in particular about what this verdict or failure to indict means in terms of his everyday interactions on the streets of New York.”
“I was actually comforted by the fact that I called and he got home safely,” Jeffries said then. “And I have got to worry every day about what could happen to him, not just from the robbers, but from a bad apple on the police department.”
Jeffries told CNN yesterday that the killer of the two officers, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was “a deranged individual, a coward who engaged in this assassination of these two officers, someone who had a dramatic criminal record in two states.”
“There’s no way that this individual should have had a gun. One of the public policy implications of this tragedy is figuring out how we can deal with our gun violence problem in America. And I don’t think that any criticism of the police department in terms of the few officers that engage in the excessive use of force should be conflated with this tragedy,” the congressman said.
“These officers did not deserve to die. But Eric Garner did not deserve to die. And clearly there’s an issue in terms of equal protection under the law for everyone, which is contained in the Constitution and we want to make sure that that provision is brought to light.”
Jeffries stressed that, moving forward, everyone on “both sides of the debate…[is] going to have to conduct themselves in a responsible fashion.”
There’s an event planned Sunday in New York intended to bring together religious leaders, police, and activists against excessive use of force.
“Bill de Blasio is the mayor, will be the mayor for the next three years. And he’s elected to lead us all through this traumatic moment,” Jeffries said. “We’re going to have to bring together rank-and-file officers… in terms of a real dialogue with communities of color in particular in the city of New York to have an honest, frank discussion about how we can move forward together.”
“We also have to deal with the violence problem that we have in America related to guns. We have got 5 percent of the world’s population, but 50 percent of the world’s guns. More than 275 million guns are in this country,” the congressman added.
“And since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, more than 24,000 additional Americans have been killed as a result of gun violence. You know, if this doesn’t serve as a wake-up call for us to collectively do something about this problem in terms of this cop killer having access to a weapon all too easily, despite his aggressive criminal record, I’m not sure what will wake the country up.”