At 28-years-old, Ismaaiyl Brinsley had been arrested 19 times and served 2 years in prison. On Saturday, in a crime spree that began when he shot an ex-girlfriend in Baltimore, he murdered two New York City policemen as they sat in their car in Brooklyn. “I’m putting wings on pigs today," he wrote in an anti-police Instagram post published prior to the killing. "They take 1 of ours... let’s take 2 of theirs.” An act of this kind would be totally unjustifiable and worthy of the strongest condemnation even if the victims were abusive police officers who were carefully targeted as payback for some past transgression. In this case, the killer's statement implies that all 34,500 uniformed NYPD officers are interchangeable members of an enemy group rather than distinct individuals whose lives matter. This species of bigoted groupthink is as unacceptable as any other.
Officer Wenjian Liu, 32, was a newlywed who married less than three months ago. His widow is reportedly inconsolable. The New York Times offers a brief bio:
Officer Liu, whose family comes from Taishan, in Guangdong Province, China, attended the College of Staten Island and Kingsborough Community College. He was an auxiliary officer before becoming a police officer in 2007. Bin Fin Liang, 56, said Officer Liu would drop by his restaurant supply shop on the way home from the Police Academy. Mr. Liang asked him why he wanted to be an officer. “I know that being a cop is dangerous but I must do it,” Officer Liu replied, his friend said. “If I don’t do it and you don’t do it, then who is going to do it?”
Officer Rafael Ramos, 40, had worked at the NYPD for three years. "While residents of his working-class neighborhood described the pride he took in being an officer, they remembered him more as the man who shoveled sidewalks after snowstorms, or who took his two boys to nearby Highland Park to play basketball, always with a smile on his face," The Times reported. "Some spoke of his love for the Mets. He bought ham-and-cheese sandwiches at the corner deli, made trips to the laundromat and talked to his boys in Spanish about basketball."