Amsterdam News front page from 12/25/14 (138252)
Credit: Amsterdam News Archives

“Each man’s death diminishes me,” the great poet John Donne wrote, and we are all the more diminished and saddened when that death results from a senseless act of violence. And that loss is even more devastating when the victim is a young and promising member of our community.

Officer Brian Moore was only 25, a veteran of five years on the NYPD with an admirable record of arrests before he was shot and killed in cold blood last Saturday. In these terrible times, when almost daily we have one of our Black men mercilessly taken from us by the excessive, often unnecessary force of a police officer, we now extend our condolences to a man who seemed to be that good cop so desperately needed.

We are still waiting for a full investigation into what happened, but one thing is absolutely final—Moore is dead, and no matter his race or color, his religion or creed, he was, as Donne observed, “involved in mankind.” No, we didn’t buy the gun or the bullets, nor did we pull the trigger, but we are, like Moore, involved in mankind, and so he was, in effect, one of us, and in the silence of our souls, our prayers go out to his family and loved ones.

The countless number of young, unarmed Black men lying in the nation’s morgues have given us a heavy dose of grief, so we know what the Moore clan is feeling. We know something about their pain and sorrow. It wasn’t that long ago we collectively mourned that brutal killing of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. They, like Moore, were taken from us much too early, much too soon for us to realize the character of their commitment and how they would wear their uniforms with honor and pride.

Helplessly, we ask when will the madness end? When will it be safe to walk away from the killing fields and find the mutual love to sustain us? I know we shouldn’t be surprised by any of the mayhem that visits us each day; we live in a violent world, a violent society, and it is naive to believe that the proliferation of guns will miraculously vanish. Nor can we expect that anything will be done to curb and treat the pervasive mental illness at the root of much of our despair.

There is no silver bullet answer to the problems that plague us, only a fusillade of real bullets that, with each volley, drives a wider chasm between the police and the community. We like to believe that Moore was about improving relations, about bringing us closer together harmoniously, making us a little more lovingly “involved in mankind.”

Moore is gone, but we have a feeling that he will not be the last to fall in the line of duty. The dedication he brought to his duty will be sorely missed. His oath was to serve with dignity and respect, and in his brief stay among us, that appeared to be very evident. His death is a loss for us all.

“Therefore,” to close with words from Donne, “send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”