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Connecting protesters to police shooting distracts from issues of brutality, bias

Terrifying violence aimed at New York Police Department officers took place over the weekend in the Bronx.

A lone gunman allegedly shot at police officers in two incidents — one late Saturday and another in the police precinct on Sunday. Cops arrested the gunman, and two officers suffered minor injuries and have been released from the hospital.

But perhaps the more long-term damage was done to the quality of public discourse in our city. Leaders took the shooting as an opportunity to push back against justified police protests. Mayor Bill de Blasio essentially accused demonstrators of “aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere.”  

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea stated that “these things,” referring to protests against police use of force and the cop shootings, “are not unrelated.” 

These comments are intellectually dishonest. They wrongly connect someone who appears to be a mentally disturbed shooter to New Yorkers exercising their constitutional rights. But more than that, they ignore the very real struggles of people being victimized by cops daily, not just in New York but all over the country. 

Targeting people of color 

The week prior to these shootings, hundreds of New Yorkers marched through Grand Central Terminal protesting the presence of police on subways.

The demonstrators objected to, among other things, the excessive use of force and inappropriate tactics that subway police sometimes employ. Moments, like the one earlier this month when a cop pushed a teenager out of a subway station who was attempting to walk through an open gate, have been caught on video and gone viral on social media.

Yet the powers that be often look the other way. In that case, the NYPD stated that the video didn’t tell the entire story and that the girl, who was African American, had tried to jump the turnstile. Students can ride for free with a school-issued subway card. The officer told the girl she could no longer ride the subway.

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Brett Gonzalez
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