Two police officers shot dead, but should the liberation protests stop? Dr. Tee Williams has the answer you don’t want to hear.
In the wake of the deaths of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu of the New York City Police Department, there has been a call put forward by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Mayor Bill de Blasio and others asking members of the Black Life Matters movement to stop protesting until these two officers have been laid to rest.
Respectfully, I offer these two words in response: Hell. No.
The nerve of you to ask this of us. We who have been abused, disrespected and murdered at the hands of the police for decade upon decade. We who watch as police officers incessantly exonerate themselves of any wrong doing. We whose hopes have been destroyed time upon time as grand juries refuse to indict our tormentors. How dare you ask us to postpone this fight – our fight – because police have now had the violence that they heap upon others inflicted upon them? As if the lives of these two officers outweigh our call for justice on behalf of the lives that other police officers have taken.
The violence these officers experienced is the inevitable outcome of wide scale police murder and brutality. The actions of the man who murdered these officers was not, as you claim, a result of the protest he attended. It was a result of the police brutality that was the genesis of that protest. It was the result of a clear and established pattern of police violence. That is what we protest and now that very same violence has been brought to your door.
Still, you ask for our condolences. You ask us to honor your dead. You ask for our silence in the midst of our rage at your injustice. Yet you have not offered these things to us. No police officer called for an end to police brutality when Tamir Rice was murdered. No police officers stood and gave salutes as Eric Garner’s body was laid to rest. No police officer decried the use of excessive force when a police officer shot 7 year old Aiyana Jones in the head as she lay sleeping on a couch.
You will not admit your wrong doing. You will not hold yourselves accountable. You will you allow yourselves to be held accountable by others. Still, you ask this of us.
You are foolish. And you must think us to be foolish as well. Believe me when I tell you that our memories are much longer than yours. We remember everything. Everything.
Liberation movements do not call time-out at the request of the people and the systems who oppress them. We will not bend to your whim. Nor will we bend to the requests of the sycophants who echo your calls for obedience and acquiescence. Movements and the protests that support them are by their very nature, disruptive. You did not hear us when we spoke. Now you will feel us as we march.
Do not mistake our intentions. Despite your own continuous display of inhumanity, we who protest, despite dehumanizing circumstances, have managed to hold on to our souls. We know that the way we seek freedom is as important as freedom itself. We know what it means to be in the oppression but not of the oppression. We, more than anyone, know well the challenges of trying to heal while living in a context that continually damages us. So,we will honor the dead.
We will offer our condolences. Not because you ask, but because we are human. Because they were human. And because every life lost in this struggle is priceless and irreplaceable.
We will mourn these men. Not because you ask, but because we recall what you have forgotten: Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were not simply one of you, they were one of us. And as distasteful as it is to say this at times, you are also one of us. Despite your racism, your ignorance, your violence, and your arrogance, we understand and know all too well the pain of the loss you feel. No one should feel that and we do not wish it upon you.
We will mourn for you. Because every time a police officer abuses their power, it undermines and dishonors the sacrifice of those men. Every time a police officer murders civilians – every time police officers knowingly remain silent when their fellow officers cross the line – it brings us one step closer to this tragedy happening again.
We will honor these men. And we will do so with love, care, and compassion because it is not only you who feels loss this day. They are our dead too. But we will honor them in our way, not yours. Our way is to do the one thing that can ensure that this never happens again: we will continue to protest. We will honor their lives and their sacrifice by continuing to demand change. For us and for you. So that we can perhaps one day breathe. And so that you can perhaps one day regain your humanity.