After the officers involved in the death of Eric Garner failed to be indicted, the entire country rose up in one of the most polarizing movements I had ever seen. Most New Yorkers I knew chose to stand with cops, completely, or with the Black Lives Matter, completely. It was one pitted against another, white vs. black, establishment vs. anti-establishment, with nothing “on the fence.”
When Detective Ramos and Liu were brutally murdered as a retaliation to the verdict, I was chosen to represent our station’s digital team at their funerals. It was an emotional time, undoubtedly. Thousands of officers from around the country, and some who crossed the border from Canada, came to pay their respects for two good men who lost their lives senselessly. But that wasn’t all that was newsworthy — their deaths became a platform on which political statements could be made. Some officers turned their back on Mayor de Blasio, seeing these officers’ deaths as his betrayal.
On the other side, Black Lives Matter supporters rallied for police officers to be held accountable for their crimes. Thousands rallied in Union Square and around Grand Central Terminal. Some held signs, brought their children, blocked traffic, and most demonstrated peacefully. There was no age or race that stood out as a majority demographic among protestors. Everyone was frustrated, so much so that it didn’t matter if the police assigned to manage the protests were not any more institutionally racist than the rest of the population. There was still a lot of harsh backlash.