Like all of us at Demos, I read the news of the murder of two NYPD officers and the attempted murder of a Baltimore woman with a feeling of horror. In a society so riddled with violence, access to guns and mental illness collide all too often in America, and in fact, every day a woman is attacked by a partner or estranged partner. When violence like this is prevented and assailants are apprehended, police officers get to be the heroes—but this weekend, two officers became victims. My heart goes out to the surviving victim in Maryland, to the families of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, and to the NYPD community who are mourning the indiscriminate killing of two of their own.
My horror at the specific facts deepened into dismay late Saturday as it became clear that some would try to use a senseless murder to discredit a movement that is helping to heal our nation. They won’t succeed. Leaders of the movement quickly rejected the acts of a deranged man and embraced the victims and their families in shared sorrow, because all lives matter.
This is not a time to further divide the city, or to make the audacious claim that violence against the police is what has united a multi-racial movement for democracy and justice in New York and across the nation.
This is not a time for false equivalencies. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is not about any one reckless officer or even a few tragic cases; it’s about an entire system of laws, practices and behaviors that keep this country from fulfilling its great potential by holding on to an antebellum belief in the unequal value of human lives.
What’s more, this is also not a time for the movement to stop; it is time for it to grow. Why now? Because ours is both a movement of love and a movement for non-violence. It was born out of trauma like this, and its purpose is to heal, now more than ever. This movement has been calling for all Americans to serve and protect each other as part of the human family. That is the call of #BlackLivesMatter. It is a call that our deeply-held desire for a wider circle of human concern in America includes the late Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, whose memory is best served by a united, hopeful New York.