I was riding a subway in New York City at the same time that Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, two New York City police officers, were shot to death in Brooklyn for merely being police officers.
When I found out what happened I was heartbroken, shocked and generally horrified. But what disturbed me even more was that Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the man who killed them, believed he was achieving justice for the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, two black men who were killed earlier this year as a result of police brutality.
It seems impossible that someone could take such an important movement against racism and intolerance and warp it into a gross justification for committing a heinous act of terror.
The murders of Ramos and Liu had nothing to do with Eric Garner, Mike Brown, the protesters or the failings of political leaders as some on TV would have you believe. Rather, it was the act of a sick individual who took a movement and mutated it to fit his own interests.
As I have reflected on what happened over the past week, I have found myself thinking hard about those who have blamed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for what happened, or those who have protested the actions of the police officers that are sworn to protect them.
The murders of Ramos and Liu reflect a chilling trend in our society, that angry individuals are wrongfully justifying petty violence and personal vendettas with the lofty terminology and themes of a national movement. It proves to me how selfish we as individuals can be and how quickly we can turn to such pettiness when addressing a national issue.
As students at a premier university we have a world of resources at our fingertips and an opportunity to educate ourselves. We have staged die-ins and rallies but it is not enough. We, as the next generation, should be leading the fight against racial inequality.
And yet, we remain largely inactive. We don’t recognize the unique opportunities our country provides us nor do we understand our place in it. What more, we spend so much time interested in our clubs and our classes that we can sometimes overlook the greater message and the world-changing implications of a movement like Ferguson. It is the same narrow perspective that led a man to murder two police officers just over a week ago.
No matter which side of the political spectrum we align with, one thing is clear, this country needs help. This is not about a murder, or two murders; this is not about Mike Brown or Ferguson. It is instead the national stage, on which we continually find racial profiling and police brutality, that deserves our utmost attention. We owe it to ourselves and the people around us that we influence to see beyond the immediate, recognize the significance of not just one murder but a national perspective and act with the bigger picture in our minds.
Josh Dostal is a sophomore in the College.