The Memorial Mass was celebrated this week at Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
Seven years before, 100,000 people–at what was then believed to be the most attended police funeral in history– gathered at another place which, like this church, would never find comfort in Manhattan nor in gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods.
They came to again mourn assassinated NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Four semi-automatic pistol shots were fired through the window of a radio car by a man who had in Baltimore earlier that day used a woman for target practice.
The killer–with multiple previous arrests and prison time for crimes of violence–found his way to Brooklyn, murdered his prey–Police Officers Ramos and Liu–and then ran into a nearby subway station, where he shot himself.
Some reported the killer was heard to speak angrily about recent violence involving police, intimating he wanted to even the score, punish cops. That’s the same kind of thinking that says we must understand those who during anti-police protests destroyed city fire engines costing $250k, or smashed store windows, to loot, and to laugh. Or assaulted police officers. In a world where cops are seen as no longer human and where murder might be justified by a madman’s alleged rantings, no one is safe.
In the years following the Ramos and Liu assassinations, our lives have not improved. The pols say Covid-19 caused increased shootings and murders that are the news of our daily New York lives. Nice try: no one ever saw a virus use a gun. They will tell us it is only a matter of time until the City Council passes and Bill DeBlasio signs laws further regulating our cops will stop violence. Gun-shot survivors and those mourning homicide victims know differently.
They will tell you that DeBlasio Administration disappeared billions of bucks–supposed to have been used for mental health programs–really did start–although we know better– to rid the streets and subways of those whose conditions do not even allow them to know consciously that in our present New York, there is no hope.
There has always been conflict between police in this country and the politicians and often between police and the people they have sworn to protect and to serve. Nothing new here. What is new is that Bill DeBlasio was elected on that conflict and used it to remain in power. He preened while the poorest of us died.
Fifteen minutes from the priciest real estate in the world, sits likely the poorest in the nation. The 40th police precinct in the Bronx. Nearly 60 non-fatal shootings this year, and close to ten killed. Who speaks for the wounded and the dead? Only our police. Politicians are busy doing whatever it is they do to fight for demoralizing reforms that bring neither justice nor peace to those New Yorkers who lack both.
In that church in Brooklyn, the DeBlasio years ended with a tear for those of all ages who have died on our streets. The memorial for those murdered cops was a memorial for our city. The pain has ended, even if only a few days earlier than planned.