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Views of Philadelphia Latino/a Officer

SOMOS UNO, SOMOS UNO, SOMOS UNO

J.Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – ‘When I first heard about the shooting, my heart dropped.  I have family in New York and a couple of them are also police officers,” said a  high-ranking Latina/Latino Investigative Officer with the Philadelphia Police Department, who requesting anonymity, spoke with El Hispano about events surrounding the execution-style slayings, on Saturday, Dec. 20th, of New York city Police Officers Rafael Ramos “and Wenjian Liu.

While the Philadelphia Police Department sent two bus loads of officers to Saturday’s services for NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, the Officer said he/she “wanted to go” but was scheduled to work.

“They are like family and our brothers and sisters,” added the Officer, referring to Ramos and Liu. “It’s hard, because you know that something like that can happen to any of us at any time.”

PPD Officer Roosevelt Parker, addressing the media agreed, “We don’t do this work to get killed. But this is what we do, we protect and serve.”

The warnings had arrived too late. Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu –  Hispanic and Asian American New York city police officers – were in their cars on a special crime reduction patrol in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Saturday, Dec. 20th, when they were  gunned down at 2:45 pm by a 28 year-old man who announced on social media his intentions.  New York city Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said,  “They were, quite simply, assassinated, targeted for their uniform.”

During the nearly two hour funeral service at Christ Tabernacle Church where Officer Ramos was studying to become a Minister, Vice President Joe Biden, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio eulogized Officers Ramos and Liu in themes that stressed unity and “family.”

“The knife of division breaks on the rock of unity,” declared Gov. Cuomo.

The Democratic Governor and son of a liberal icon then expressed the type of staunch support for the city’s law enforcement that had largely been absent, as massive protests followed in the wake of a pair of controversial grand jury decisions regarding the use of force that resulted in the deaths of two unarmed African Americans: “Nothing will ever defeat or divide our New York family, 9/11 couldn’t do it,” said Cuomo.

And citing the “principles” that  Officers Ramos and Liu “stood for,” Cuomo added, “We respect the rule of law and we protect each other; because at the end of the day, we are one people , one city, one state, one community and one family. Somos Uno, Somos Uno, Somos Uno.”

After praising Officers Ramos and Liu as men of “brave hearts and generous souls,” Mr. Biden addressed his remarks to Ramos’s wife Maritza and teenage sons Jaden and Justin: ‘There are no words to ease that profound sense of loneliness,” he said. “But a time will come when Rafael’s memory will bring a smile to your lips,” rather than a “tear to your eye.”

“Police Officers and Police families are a different breed. And thank God for them,” continued Biden. “So when an assassins bullet targeted two officers, it targeted this city and it touched the soul of an entire nation.”

A leader of Philadelphia’s Dominican grocers and recent candidate for the state legislature, Danilo Burgos issued a statement praising Ramos and Liu, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

While only one of ten persons asked had seen the services for officer Ramos, the consensus of local opinion was favorable towards this city’s police department:  “I don’t have anything negative to say about the police,” said Ivan Colon. “They have to make sacrifices and do a good job.  And they’ve helped me when I was robbed.”

“In this neighborhood they have a difficult job,”said Manny Perez of Huntingdon Avenue. “But I’ve never had a problem with the police.”

“I think they’re awesome,” said Jerry R. who manages a busy business on Lehigh Avenue.  And Ellen Ramos agreed, “I talk to them when I hear something and I think the do a good job.”

Mr. D. Gumelsindo, a grocer in the Fairhill section, however, questioned their response to any emergency. “I don’t call them,” he said. “They will take their time or they won’t show up.”

Discussing the actions of thousands of Police Officers led by police union leader Pat Lynch to turn their backs to Mayor Bill de Blasio for what they perceived as a lack of support, the Philadelphia Latina/Latino officer said, “I haven’t talked to my cousins in New York and don’t work for them.  But I guess they felt very strongly about the new mayor.”

Of the support shown by Philadelphia area leaders, the officer noted, “I haven’t been able to see much of the news lately, but I know some (officers) made statements on (social media). But I just bite my tongue.”

Questioned whether the many recent protests are discouraging, the Latino/Latina officer observed: “They have a right to protest. And it seems like people are jumping on the band wagon and they might not have all the facts.”

“I think there are people who are also pro-police,” he/she added. “But I haven’t seen any celebrities,” showing support for the police.

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Posting of 13 year-old Jaden Ramos to his Father: “Today I had to say bye to my Father. He was (there) for me every day of my life, he was the best father I could ask for.  It’s horrible that someone gets shot for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people they call for help.  I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad.”

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