Veterans For Peace joins with millions of people across the United States who stand shocked and appalled at the murder of NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn. We join with the loved ones of these innocent police officers in mourning their deaths. Two more seats will be empty at tables this holiday season due to unnecessary violence.
The national movement sparked by the people of Ferguson, MO for racial justice and police accountability should and must continue. Blaming the killing of these officers on people exercising their constitutional rights to press for reform of an abusive system is misleading and irresponsible. It reminds us of those who say that we should not protest unjust U.S. wars or hold anyone accountable for torture because to do so aids and abets the enemy. Both narratives seek to maintain the existing state of affairs and ignore the countless peaceful protestors across the nation calling for peace and justice, and an end to all state-sanctioned violence.
The deaths of the Brooklyn police officers, ambushed by a socially alienated and disturbed Ismaaiyl Brinsley who had earlier wounded his ex-girlfriend (a health insurance specialist with the Veterans Administration and an Air Force reservist), to the police killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many other unarmed people are part of a larger epidemic of violence we face in our nation. We must take pause and contemplate the best way forward to help solve this problem. This killing in particular demands that we examine the gaps in our mental healthcare system, the proliferation of guns that easily fall into the hands of known criminals and the mentally ill, and our national culture of violence and vengeance.
It is a familiar and sad pattern: 2014 Fort Hood, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School, 2007 University of Virginia and many other murder-suicides, where confused and mentally vulnerable people searching for relief from personal and social conflicts turn to violence. Many more kill others but not themselves. And why not see violence as the answer? We are surrounded by examples of U.S. officials rationalizing and using violence to “solve” problems, including drone killings of innocent women and children and the assassination of innocent victims of mistaken identity. Unarmed men and women are killed, brutalized and tortured at home and abroad with no accountability signaling it as acceptable. Redemptive violence as an answer to solve most any problem has become an American way of life.
We would best serve ourselves, the memories of the Brooklyn police officers and all victims of violence by committing to nonviolent resolution of our disputes and respect for human life both at home and abroad. We must create a culture of peace, which includes how law enforcement polices communities. We must begin to uplift, celebrate and respect dialogue, cooperation, creative problem solving and nonviolence in all aspects of our life. Violence will always plague the human condition, but we can change that, provided the political and social will to confront it.