After a man went on a shooting spree that included two New York City police officers before committing suicide, a local politician decided to use the tragedy as an excuse for a bizarre attack on Al Sharpton.
"Looks like that piece of trash Al Sharpton got what he wanted," tweeted Marc Lombardo, the Republican state representative from Billerica.
Lombardo was referring to the events of yesterday in which Ismaaiyl Brinsley is reported to have shot his former girlfriend near Baltimore before traveling to New York City, where he fatally shot Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as they sat in their patrol car, then shot himself to death.
Well before Lombardo posted his tweet, Sharpton issued a statement saying he was "outraged" by the shootings:
I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today, Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.
We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.
We plan to hold a press conference in the morning to express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department. Details to follow.
After a number of people responded to Lombardo's tweet, he deleted it, then apologized in another tweet. "Emotional tweet earlier. Was stupid and unfair," he wrote.
Emotional tweet earlier. Was stupid and unfair. I'm very sadden by the NYPD shooting. Such a tragedy.
— Marc Lombardo (@MarcTLombardo) December 21, 2014
Lombardo isn't the only person trying to link the killings to the recently spawned nationwide protest movement against police violence. Patrick Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, also made a statement yesterday, placing blame on "those that incited violence on the street, under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day."
Brinsley apparently said in an Instagram post that the killings of the two police officers were in retaliation for the Mike Brown shooting or Eric Garner killing, writing: "I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours......Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMikeBrown."
While Brinsley may have been motivated by these killings, there is no evidence that his shooting spree is part of a trend of increased violence toward police. In fact, data show that violence against police is at historically low rates and it has likely never been safer to be a police officer.