Fallen heroes

US policemen at funeral of colleague speak out against anti-police sentiment after recent unrest over police brutality.

    As many as 30,000 police officers from across the United States paid their respects at the Long Island funeral for Moore [AP]
    As many as 30,000 police officers from across the United States paid their respects at the Long Island funeral for Moore [AP]

    The police officers came by the busload, thousands of them, forming a sea of blue around the Long Island church. It was the funeral of Brian Moore, a New York Police Officer who was shot in the face after confronting a man with a gun.

    But it was clear that police were also mourning what they see as a lack of respect for their profession.

    One young officer snapped his fingers to explain how he was feeling about Moore’s death. "Out like that. And for what? Nothing. People don't realise what we do for them."

    A sign in one car read "Police Lives Matter," a new twist on "Black lives Matter," the rallying cry of demonstrators who in the last year have taken to the streets across the United States in protest of police brutality. The same loyalty to the force on display at Moore’s funeral has been blamed for a culture of covering up police misdeeds.

    "It's actually been a terrible year for police," Congressman Peter King before entering the church. "Because around the country they're being assailed and at the same time they're being shot and murdered."

    King went further and said attempts to reign in the overuse of a controversial police tactic known as "stop and frisk" was "both holding police back and also encouraging the lawless elements".

    Anti-police sentiment

    New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, however, says that is not reality. Two days earlier, outside the 105th Precinct where Moore had worked, he pointed out that violent crime In New York was down in 2014 and, so far, 2015. But he agreed that anti-police sentiment had taken a toll.

    "We had not had a police officer death for four years and then we had Liu and Ramos who were assassinated," Bratton said, referring to Wenjien Liu and Rafael Ramos who were shot by a man who was angry about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two men killed by police.

    Outside the precinct was a picture of Moore, candles and flowers set up as a memorial. A poster that hailed police as heroes, harkening back to the days after the attacks of September 11, 2001 when New York police and firefighters were universally praised.

    Those days may be gone, but the good work of the police has not been completely forgotten. Throughout that day neighbourhood residents, of all races and ages, stopped by to leave flowers and pay their respects.

    "We're sorry what happened to the police officer and we are just glad to show our concern," said David Brown.

    "I can't imagine our world without police officers," said Susan Love, a local teacher.

    Retired officer Kevin Fitzpatrick, said he wouldn’t want to do the job in today’s climate, but Patrolman John McCoy recalled his fallen colleague.

    "Brian always gave back to the community. Always, always," he said, tearing up as he remembered seeing him just hours before his untimely death.

    He said good police officers, like Moore, get in the business to help people. And they would continue to do so.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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