Man Shoots Girlfriend, Then Kills Two NYPD Cops

[Content Note: Guns; violence; murder; self-harm; racism; misogyny.]

Saturday afternoon, a man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Thompson, in Baltimore, before driving to New York City, where he shot and killed two police officers sitting in their cruiser, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Brinsley then killed himself. Thompson, who Brinsley shot in the abdomen, is in serious condition but is expected to survive.

My sincerest condolences to the friends, family, and colleagues of Officers Lui and Ramos. I will be keeping Shaneka Thompson in my thoughts; I hope she has access to the resources she needs to recover from both the physical and psychological trauma of being shot.

Brinsley made statements on social media that he was intending to kill police officers, in retaliation for the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

As a result, there has been an outpouring of anger directed at protestors and anyone who has shown support for them.

The Fraternal Order of Police in Baltimore released a statement that laid blame far and wide:
Once again, we need to be reminded that the men and women of law enforcement are absolutely the only entity standing between a civilized society and one of anarchy and chaos. In that position, we should be supported in our efforts, with continuous diligence, by a strong political leadership. Unfortunately, recently, that has not been the case. Politicians and community leaders from President Obama, to Attorney General Holder, New York Mayor de Blasio, and Al Sharpton have, as the result of their lack of proper guidance, created the atmosphere of unnecessary hostility and peril that police officers now find added to the ordinary danger of their profession. Sadly, the bloodshed will most likely continue until those in positions of power realize that the unequivocal support of law enforcement is required to preserve our nation.
Patrolman's Benevolent Association chief Pat Lynch held a press conference at which he said: "There's blood on many hands tonight. That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the Office of the Mayor," and blamed "those that incited violence on the streets under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what NYPD officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated."

A memo purported to have been circulated by the PBA read: "The mayor's hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a 'wartime' police department. We will act accordingly."

To mischaracterize protests calling for accountability for police as inciting violence against police is deeply dishonest. And using Brinsley's actions as evidence of incitement is also dishonest, especially coming from people who, for months, have argued that the cops who killed Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Jonathan Ferrell, Darrien Hunt, Tamir Rice, and others, each acted in a vacuum, just a few bad apples and not representative of cops as a whole, but Ismaaiyl Brinsley is wholly a product of protests that are three months old.

Further, to set the murders of these cops and #BlackLivesMatter in opposition to one another, one must disappear the attempted murder of Shaneka Thompson. This violent spree started with the attempted murder of Shaneka Thompson.

It is wholly indecent to write her out of the narrative of what happened because the attempt to kill her is inconvenient to the narrative that Ismaaiyl Brinsley is a black man representative of the entire black community who just wanted to kill cops.

The truth is, Brinsley looks a lot more like a number of other killers, who start their murderous sprees with domestic violence, murdering their exes, their girlfriends, their wives, and/or their mothers, before going on to create as much mayhem as possible.

See, for example, Adam Lanza.

As Jessica Luther noted: "Gendered violence often enough serves as precursor to other violence and then that woman (or women) is erased from the narrative."

Nothing—and I mean nothing—justifies or mitigates the killing of Officers Lui and Ramos. They were killed in cold blood by a violent asshole, and I grieve for their lives.

That grief isn't predicated on demonizing protestors and everyone who stands in solidarity with them.

Particularly since, when I look at the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, what I see is a familiar story about a man who hurt a woman and then wanted to make the news, in the most spectacular way in which he could conceive.

A terrible, familiar story.

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