Obama Rejects New York Cop Killings

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

President Barack Obama released a statement Saturday evening condemning the political murder of two New York cops.

The statement is likely intended to shield him from public anger over the murders, which follow his repeated claims that police forces unfairly treat African-Americans in many cities around the nation.

“I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City,” said Obama’s statement.

“Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification,” said Obama’s statement.

“The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day — and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day. Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal — prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen,” read the statement.

The killer was apparently a black Muslim separatist, Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley. He killed the two officers — Wenjin Liu and Rafael Ramos — while they were sitting in their patrol car.

But Obama’s already weak political standing also could be significantly wounded if the nation’s police forces — and many citizens — blame the murder on his efforts to expand and exploit African-American anger about police killings in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.

Already, former New York Police Department commissioner Bernie Kerik told Fox News that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and MSNBC TV host Al Sharpton “have blood on their hands,” for encouraging angry protests against police forces.

“They encouraged protests… where people are standing out there saying ‘kill the cops,’” Kerik said.

Shortly after the killing, New York police symbolically blamed DeBlasio by turning their backs on him as he walked through a group of police. A video of the protest was leaked.

On Dec. 1, three weeks after the Nov. 4 midterm defeat, Obama invited DeBlasio and Sharpton to a White House meeting on police conduct.

The meeting was described as a response to the killing of two African-American men in the summer, but it also dragged media attention away from Obama’s decisive defeat in the November election, and from his unpopular Nov. 20 plan to grant work-permits to five million illegals.

In August 2014, Michael Brown was killed by a policeman in Ferguson, Mo., and in July 2014 Eric Garner was killed in Staten Island, N.Y. The Brown killing was judged to be self-defense, and the Garner killing was judged to be inadvertent.

Obama did not endorse or praise the official investigations into the two killings.  Instead he sought to harness African-Americans’ anger. “The problem is not just a Ferguson problem, it is an American problem.  And we’ve got to make sure that we are actually bringing about change,” he said at a Nov. 25 rally in Chicago.

“I think Ferguson laid bare a problem that is not unique to St. Louis or that area, and is not unique to our time, and that is a simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color,” Obama told reporters Dec. 1.

“The sense that in a country where one of our basic principles, perhaps the most important principle, is equality under the law, that too many individuals, particularly young people of color, do not feel as if they are being treated fairly,” he said.

The cop killer may have agreed with Obama. He apparently posted a message online shortly before the murder, saying “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs.” He also showed a gun, and added some anti-police hashtags, ‘#ShootThePolice,’ ‘#RIPErivGarner’ and ‘#RIPMike Brown.

In his Dec. 1 statement, Obama outlined his plans for a sustained political campaign to force changes in police strategy in cities around the nation.

“What we need is a sustained conversation in which in each region of the country people are talking about this honestly and then can move forward in a constructive fashion,” Obama said.

On Dec. 18, three days before the New York attack, Obama announced a new “Task Force on 21st Century Policing.”

According to a White House statement, “the Task Force will examine, among other issues, how to build public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities that they protect, while also promoting effective crime reduction.”

Follow Neil on Twitter