Saturday, January 03, 2015


The New York Times does a fine job of piecing together the life of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who shot and killed two cops in New York last month. Brinsley's life was a mess, and he never focused on much of anything for very long; anti-cop violence gave him meaning at the very end of his life, but if he had a deep-seated agenda of political rage before that, no one who knew him seems to have noticed.
... [His mother, Shakuwra] Dabre, struggling and broke, couldn’t handle him. So he bounced around: to his father’s, to a school in California, to New Jersey when his father moved there, to Atlanta with Ms. Dabre after he was sexually abused and tried to kill himself when he was about 14, to the apartment of a sister and her boyfriend, to a group home for troubled boys, to his sister again. Ismaaiyl learned to live on a couch. He was so estranged at times from his mother that she wasn’t certain where he went to high school....

He became a hustler. Mr. Brinsley was a name-brand thief, accused of stealing things like a pair of rhinestone-studded women’s Fendi frames, a brown Gucci belt....

He aspired to be a ladies’ man....

“He was a real good dresser,” said Muller St-Cyr, a hip-hop artist from Brooklyn. “Like, the stuff he would wear, females would post on his Instagram, ‘Uh oh, Denzel Washington.’ Females, they were shocked. What was presented online was far from the reality. No one knew he was messed up the way he was messed up.”

Mr. Brinsley used social media to network, to figure out places to go, friends said. He went to Ohio, to Las Vegas, to Florida, mainly moving by bus, always looking for a place to stay....

Some of his long list of petty crimes were simply bizarre. In June 2009, he was arrested in Springfield, Ohio, after stealing a pair of scissors, a power inverter and some Trojan condoms from a Rite Aid. When a security guard confronted him, Mr. Brinsley ran to a nearby hotel. Police found him near the laundry room, trying to take out his braids.

But other incidents highlighted his quick temper. By early 2010, Mr. Brinsley had been arrested twice for threatening women. He had allegedly threatened to kill one woman, then found her four days later and threw a drink at her. He threatened a Waffle House employee who asked him to leave, and tried to punch her.

For the most part, his family was estranged. His mother was back in Brooklyn and rarely saw him. His father had little to do with him. “SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHER-LESS CHILD,” he wrote on Facebook during this time.

By 2011, he was on Twitter as the “Scorpio King.” His missives were aspirational (“Rise and grind! Another day, more dollars”); revealing (“I Almost Got Shot At Point Blank Range A Few Moments Ago”) and contradictory (“IN ALLAH I TRUST” followed by one mentioning “3 Condoms” and “I Love Myself!!!!”)...
He posted anti-police messages online in the months before the murders, but friends don't remember him talking about the police this way. And after he shot his girlfriend, a few hours before killing the cops, he got in touch with his mother and sister, and his mother thought she was his next target.

The politics of it all was in the air, but he doesn't seem to have been seriously political. He was raised a Muslim, but he seems to have been only fitfully religious. The key point is that he was a wounded guy full of free-floating anxiety, insecurity, and anger; he found a peg to hang all this on and killed two cops.


Now, you can accept that -- which doesn't offer much in the way of satisfying answers -- or you can find a convenient, familiar scapegoat for the shooting. This is from the Daily Caller (via Fox Nation):
Louis Farrakhan Urged ‘Retaliation’ For Michael Brown A Month Before Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley Executed NYPD Cops

In late November, the student government at taxpayer-funded Morgan State University sponsored a conference on slavery reparations for black Americans.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan was the keynote speaker....

Farrakhan’s keynote rant lasted over two hours. At one point, he held up what resembled a Quran at the public school, saying that both the central religious text of Islam and the Bible contain a “law of retaliation” and “a life for a life.”

“As long as they kill us and go to Wendy’s and have a burger and go to sleep, they’ll keep killing us,” the Nation of Islam leader fumed. “But when we die and they die, then soon we’re going to sit at a table and talk about it! We’re tired! We want some of this earth or we’ll tear this goddamn country up!”

Farrakhan’s Nov. 22 remarks occurred 28 days before Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley brutally murdered two New York City police officers....
Did Brinsley even know that this speech had taken place? The Caller article offers no evidence that he did. All we're told is: Farrakhan is a Muslim who's angry about the deaths of blacks at the hands of police; so was Brinsley. Implication: You know those damn Muslims. They're thick as thieves. They're all in cahoots.

The Times story seems to be essentially the truth, but the Caller story is more powerful. It's more emotionally satisfying to find someone to blame. (The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association finds it satisfying to blame Mayor de Blasio.) This is always a problem for democracy: the people enraged by a satisfying narrative tend to have more political power, because they're fired up. And so these cop shootings can't be about a now-deceased American drifter glomming onto political outrage in the last weeks of a misspent life. Someone has to be at fault -- someone whose still there to blame, and whose alleged guilt conveniently indicts others.


Victor said...

This is a powerful and insightful piece of writing, Steve.


I'll leave it at that.

Steve M. said...


Kenneth Anderson said...

So, let me get this straight, based on your lead-in.

The guy wasn't a committed anti-cop militant who was likely gunning for a cop based on his long time agenda.

Rather, he was an impressionable and violently unstable man. Which is to say, exactly the type of man to be spurred by copious lynch mob encouragement into.. doing something rash.

Look, I'm not inclined to blame the Left for this police murder. But I think you need to fix YOUR narrative! It doesn't point the way you seem to think it does.

Palli said...

There is of course another implication to this article's subject. Cop victim's lives are publicly dredged for all excuses to presume their guilt for anything & everything so the rest of the citizenry can be convinced that other citizen's death was their due.

But what do American's know about the cops who kill citizens? What are the professional or personal lives of these Americans? What are their backgrounds, education and family life: just cops, with this number of years of service and that commendation or complaint and this many children. Sure, part is a despicable trailing program that tells cops to shoot to imagine their mother, wife or daughter is in danger behind them and only their weapon can save them. But not all cops choose to shoot and then reason how to justify the action. Shouldn't we know something about the difference?
When rudimentary investigation into individual cops occurs, it stays just that rudimentary. We know they graduated from high school and probably have neither low nor high intelligence. Little more because nothing can be said to hint at any reason for the shooting or the choking or the tasing or the negligence that caused the abrupt death of a human being that might over shadow the "blue belief" in us vs. them.
The killer of Michael Brown has a history that could be a soap opera saga. The killer of Eric Garner was a common bully. The killer of Tamir Rice was living a fantasy life of wild, wild west. The gungho cop killed John Crawford in a Walmart for carrying a "gun" in an Open Carry state. The Beavercreek man and woman had a racist imagination that caused that death. Why don't we know more?

Ten Bears said...

All indications are he was nothing more than fucked up kid living in a fucked up society who went to New York to suicide by cop. Nothing more. Why is that so difficult to understand?

Yes Yes Yes I realize The Media Must Turn A Profit, but seriously, we have what is advertised as the best education system (for white dogs anyways) in the world, so why is it so difficult for white dogs to understand?

Regulars 'round here know I don't cotton much to being labeled a "liberal", or a "lefty"... at best I'm a pissed off pistol packing progressive who doesn't mind bustin' a few heads. In fact, I kinda' enjoy it. Because violence is not the last resort of the inept, it is the last resort. The white dogs started the race war and now they're outraged 'ore the casualties? WTF!? Why is it so difficult to understand? This was nothing more than an opportunistic fucked up kid growing up in an opportunistic fucked up society whom went to New York to grab fifteen seconds of fame suiciding by cop.

Seriously, why is it so difficult to understand?

duffandnonsense said...

Nah, you're all wrong! It was really the fault of those cops sitting in their car, I mean, threatening or what? On a public street! In uniform! Carrying guns! Probably planning how to murder the next black man!

Dark Avenger said...

Duff, go teach your Queen to suck eggs.