Friday, December 26th, 2014

Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Don’t let them tell you otherwise. Words matter. The old saying that “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me?” Wrong! Dead wrong! Words can inflame, and the rhetoric can reach such a fever pitch, that violence erupts. And people can die. That’s what happened last week in New York City. A disturbed career criminal got so caught up in the speeches of hate and virulence that he took what he thought was revenge. And the blood on his hands is on many others all across this nation.

Ismaaiyl Brinsley was a 28-year-old street thug who never should have been on the streets in Brooklyn last week when he assassinated two New York City police officers. He was a perpetual lawbreaker with at least 19 arrests-four in Ohio and 15 in Georgia. He had been convicted of grand larceny, felony shoplifting, destroying property and possession of a stolen gun. He should have been behind bars.

There was no doubt as to why he murdered the two officers. Just two hours before his slaughter began, Brinsley wrote on his Instagram page: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours…Let’s take 2 of theirs.” It included the hashtags “#shootthepolice” as well as references to Michael Brown and Eric Garner. He was getting even. It was, in his warped mind, payback time for the reams of inflammatory rhetoric that had flooded the news in the past month.

Brinsley was influenced by the whole inciting tone of the rhetoric by members of congress and NFL football players who hollered “Hands up, Don’t shoot,” even though the Ferguson grand jury concluded no such thing was said my Michael Brown.

The New York Times continued the sparks of irresponsible pomposity following a Cleveland killing with the headline: “New York police kill child with Toy,” even though there had been a 911 call that said the suspect was waiving a gun around the park and “scaring the hell out of them.”

Hundreds of marchers in New York City last week raised the rhetorical stakes with continuing chants of: “ What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want it? Now!”

Others, in large numbers, hollered: “New York P.D., KKK. How many kids have you killed today?”

Cops under no reasonable circumstances should shoot unarmed young men who pose no major threat. Hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers do their jobs every day without unarmed men being killed. Yes, mistakes happen and there can be over reaction by the police. But do such events become justification to block major roadways and bridges, and shut down shopping mallsProtesting unjust actions or decisions is as American as apple pie. I’ve done my share of protesting what I considered to be flat out wrong verdicts by both law enforcement and the judicial system. But threats of violent revenge can only lead to tragedy as we saw in the killings of the two officers last week.

The anti-police adulation reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, painting many police officers as brutal and subject to vicious overreacting in their jobs. But the overreaction was a two way street. Ismaaiyl Brinsley listened to the vitriol of misleading information day after day. It was only words. But words led to tragedy. He became a killer.

The son of one of the slain police officers went on Facebook to morn his father’s death. “This is the worst day of my life,” Jaden Ramos, the 13-year-old son of officer Rafael Ramos, wrote.

“Today I had to say bye to my father,” Jaden continued. “He was there for me everyday of my life, he was the best father I could ask for. It’s horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad.”

Through this whole sorted heartbreaking disaster, words mattered. Words had consequences. And everyone involved were losers.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also hear Jim’s nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am, central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com.


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