The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and NYPD police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were all tragic because they did not deserve to die. The #BlackLivesMatter movement grew out of the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The recent killings of two NYPD police officers by Ismaaily Brinsley spawned the Twitter hashtag #NYPDLivesMatter. Regardless of politics or the differences in circumstances none of these people deserved to be killed because none of their actions justified their killings, and all lives matter. #BlackLivesMatter and #NYPDLivesMatter are not mutually exclusive because each is a protest against unnecessary killing of another human being.
Michael Brown and Eric Garner
At first glance, the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are different from the killings of the NYPD police officers. Both Michael Brown and Eric Garner were killed by white police officers. Even though there were some differences between Brown’s killing and Garner’s killing, the killings shared one key common denominator: both black men were killed by white police officers.
Most people know Michael Brown was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, but the circumstances surrounding his death remain somewhat of a mystery. Although Brown was shot six times and had no weapon on him, a Ferguson grand jury failed to indict Wilson, and the district attorney appeared indifferent at best to the result even though his job was to secure an indictment.
Eric Garner was not shot to death. He was choked to death in New York by a New York police officer. Although the circumstances surrounding Garner’s death alleged criminal activity are unclear, it is obvious from the video showing the police officer choking Garner that Garner was not committing any type of violent crime—he was selling cigarettes on the sidewalk.
In each case, neither officer was indicted, and this fueled the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which has been aided by social media, Twitter and YouTube in particular.
NYPD Officers Slain and the Finger Pointing Begins
The police officers, one Asian and one Hispanic, were killed by a black man, and, unfortunately, critics of the #BlackLivesMatter movement have used this as an opportunity blame the heartfelt and justifiable protests (the peaceful ones) of the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner for the slaying of two police officers. Of course, Rudy Giuliani (one of the main critics of the protestors) failed to mention Ismaaily Brinsley had a history of arrest, hatred for police and mental health issues, which predated the Brown and Garner killings. Giuliani also blamed the president for the killings thus adding to his status of political has been and right wing nut job.
Actor and conservative troll, James Woods, also went on a recent Twitter tirade blaming Al Sharpton for the shootings even though Sharpton immediately denounced the killings and had nothing to do with the shootings.
#BlackLivesMatter and #NYPDLivesMatter mean the same thing
Ismaaily Brinsley later killed himself, so nothing can be done criminally. It is possible for the slain police officers to file wrongful death claims against Brinsley’s estate, but these lawsuits are unlikely to accomplish much of anything.
At a basic level, the deaths of Brown, Garner, Wenjian and Ramos are all the same because they were unnecessary. Initially Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths were separate events from the killing of the NYPD police officers, and the events were deaths of Brown and Garner differed from the NYPD police officers in a variety of ways all of which are worthy of further analysis. Right or wrong, however, groups with differing viewpoints have linked the events, and this could be a great opportunity to show that all lives matter. While the issues are separate and multi-faceted, the commonality here is people’s lives matter regardless of who they are and regardless of their circumstances.
It is important to ignore the cacophony of the words of talking heads from warring factions pushing their own agendas and to see the human element here. There is too much violence in this country. Too many people are killed for no good reason. This should offend all of us, and we should all work together to find a way to prevent the unnecessary killing of human beings. As human beings we all have value, and Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos did not deserve to die. At a fundamental level, #BlackLivesMatter and #NYPDLivesMatter mean the same thing.
Lawyer at Wells Jenkins Lucas Jenkins PLLC in North Carolina. Writes the daily blog southernlawyernc.blogspot.com.