Civil rights leaders condemned the ambush killings of two New York police officers and expressed fear that the backlash over the murders could derail the peaceful protests that has grown out of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
In the raw hours following the killing of the officers, police union officials and politicians accused those who have protested the deaths of Garner and Brown of fanning anti-police fervor. Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association in New York, said there was “blood on the hands” of demonstrators and elected officials who have criticized police tactics.
The Garner and Brown families issued statements repudiating the officers’ killings, while civil rights leaders took to the airwaves to try to put some distance between the movement and the crime.
“To link the criminal insanity of a lone gunman to the peaceful protests and aspirations of many people across the country, including the attorney general, the mayor and even the president, is simply not fair,” NAACP President Cornell William Brooks said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Brooks said the shootings were “certainly not a step forward” for the movement.
Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down at close range in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who then committed suicide.
Before the attack, Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”
In the wake of the ambush former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani lashed out at New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing the government officials of contributing to everyone “hating the police.”
“They have created an atmosphere of severe, strong, anti-police hatred in certain communities, and for that, they should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who has called for peaceful protests, condemned “eye-for-an-eye” violence on Sunday. He called the idea of blaming peaceful protesters for the madness absurd.
“We are now under intense threat from those who are misguided — from those who are trying to blame everyone from civil rights leaders to the mayor rather than deal with an ugly spirit that all of us need to fight,” he said.
Sharpton added: “There are those of us committed to nonviolence and making the system work. And there are those committed to anarchy and recklessness who could care less about the families of police or the families who have raised questions about police accountability.”
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