It is disheartening to learn of the dispute between the Rev. Al Sharpton and the family of Randolph Holder Jr., the NYPD officer killed last week. We are even more appalled that Holder was the victim of a suspect with a long criminal record who should have been behind bars instead of behind a lethal firearm.
The differences between Sharpton and the Holder family have been resolved. He released a statement Tuesday declining an invitation to deliver the eulogy at Holder’s funeral. This unfortunate situation appeared to begin when Holder’s mother expressed her outrage that Sharpton was not at the arraignment of Tyrone Howard, the man accused of shooting her son.
However, Sharpton had sent his condolences early the next morning. His presence at the funeral was also denounced by Holder’s fiancee, who said the officer detested Sharpton’s anti-cop positions. She said that he wasn’t a fan of Sharpton’s, so she wondered why he would be there speaking. Sharpton said he had been invited by Holder’s father.
All of this confusion is a terrible distraction from the gravity of an incident that has taken from us one of the NYPD’s finest officers—distraction that even Sharpton acknowledged and respectfully sought to tamp down with his decision not to appear at the funeral.
When it comes to gun violence, no matter who the victims are, we are hurt and saddened. We mourn the death of Holder with the same sense of hopelessness and sorrow that we expressed for those whose lives were lost because of excessive force by the police. Seeing the sign “Blue Lives Matter” posted at the memorial site for the fallen officer was clearly a rebuke of “Black Lives Matter,” and this again is uncalled for and only drives a wider chasm between a positive movement for change in policing and those proponents of the “Ferguson effect.”
And now may be a good time to address the fallout of the “Ferguson effect,” which is best understood on how one views the police. In other words, has the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the subsequent demonstrations brought about resistance to police authority or has the movement provided African-Americans with an avenue to express their rights as citizens?
If we accept the conclusion of FBI Director James Comey, the uptick in crime in some major urban cities is the result of the police being stifled in the application of tactics such as stop-and-frisk and the presence of cellphones documenting police abuse. Comey admits he has no concrete data to support such a theory.
And now we hear Gov. Chris Christie, beyond the Amtrak quiet car, assailing President Barack Obama for his endorsement of Black Lives Matter. It’s an argument without merit and odious to compare the loss of lives, whether they are Black or “Blue.” While it has been reported that the shooting deaths of police officers nationwide decreased in the first six months of this year, from 23 to 16 in 2014, we are also informed that more than 800 civilians have been fatally shot by police officers so far this year.
As we go to press, mourners are gathering at Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral in Queens to pay their final respects to Holder. We extend to the family and the NYPD our encomium for the fallen officer who gave his life in pursuit of a suspected felon. Let us set aside our differences for the moment and pay tribute to one who so selflessly gave the state some service, and they know it.