Prominent Attorney and The Source‘s owner and publisher, L. Londell McMillan, is a native of Brooklyn, New York. Specifically, he was born and reared in the Tompkins Houses in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn where two unsuspecting police officers, Officer Rafael Ramos and Officer Wenjian Lu, were shot and killed execution style by a 28-year old man. The gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley–who turned the gun on himself shortly after he fired four shots into the passenger window of a marked police car–was the suspect in the shooting of a woman in Baltimore early on Saturday, and his disturbing Instagram posts put Baltimore PD on alert, and prompted them to warn NYPD. It was too late.
The corner of Myrtle Ave and Tompkins Ave in Brooklyn has transformed from a buzzing intersection in the heart of Brooklyn into the site of several candlelight vigils and temporary memorials in memory of the tragic shootings. While politicians and analysts point their anger towards figures such as Rev. Al Sharpton, Mayor Bill de Blasio, PBA union chief Patrick Lynch, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and accuse them of dividing the city and causing great tension while everyday citizens locally and nationwide are attempting to survive and find hope, as well as avoid –in the words of former Governor George Pataki–“barbaric actions” could have. A society that lives in fear, and an entire generation of young people that don’t feel as if the justice system will ever be on their side, and the idea that they will only achieve justice if they take it into their own hands. We as a society are far from that extreme, but fairness for all and a justice system that isn’t swayed by racially biased agendas is also an extreme that we are dangerously far from.
L. Londell McMillan, who grew up in the Tompkins Projects where the murders took place this weekend, a neighborhood that serves as the hometown of over-achievers like comedian Tracy Morgan and down the block from Hip-Hop icon Jay Z‘s Marcy Projects, has watched the impact this tragedy has had on his childhood neighborhood, and in Part 1 of our Source Exclusive Interview had this to say about Saturday’s tragedy and the very strained state of affairs in our country.
“The senseless tragedy surrounding the murder of the police officers this past weekend, the shooting of the woman in Baltimore and suicide of Ismaaiyl Brinsley is an epic case of many things gone wrong in our society today, and the absolute need for us all to seek honest dialogue, healing, reconciliation and compassion. My deepest condolences go out to all the families who lost their loved ones. We live in a fragile world where facts and feelings matter and play a role in the human rights of us all. We live in a time where mental health issues, hopelessness, social injustice, and class warfare have created such a dangerous divide and tension that the human rights of all people in America are at risk,” says McMillan in a thoughtful moment.”
“With respect to the role of law enforcement McMillan continues: “For most, the thought of causing harm to the police officers who serve our communities to keep us safe is unconscionable. Law enforcement officers are necessary to protect against crime; they are also loving fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and more who deserve to go home at night. We must respect the law and those who uphold it. The lives of the police matter just like the lives of others. Most are good people who should gain our applause on a daily basis like school teachers should. Again, their lives matter. However, it is too often the lives of others and their families who are not given justice when violence, harm and death comes their way. Whether this is a feeling or a fact — it is real and it causes real life and death decisions. We are all human beings and we should all be bestowed with the dignity of human rights. We hold these truths to be self evident.”
“I am distraught over how this random yet horrific incident has stained the community I grew up. This community has had its share of suffering, difficulties and challenges over the years. The media focus on police conflicts with the mayor has nothing to do with this community or the incident. The killer was not from this Brooklyn community and he was apparently mentally ill (which very few are focusing on this very serious issue). This murder episode perpetrated by this outsider will only make things even more difficult and tense. People from all over are now coming to the scene of the crime to pay their respects for these officers. Rightfully so, these officers and their families deserve our support. People come to support the dead — but what about the living? Where are the people to support youth and elders in these communities trapped by an unjust society. Where are the “so-called” leaders when the cameras and media lights close? Why does the PBA leader not show visible leadership in communities that can foster community policing in a friendly and just manner? As a youth, I would get stopped by the police but I was never taught to hate them. What will be the lessons of today? We need to educate the community and the police together and unite them to avoid social and physical warfare in the future. Again, we are all human beings with human rights that should be respected. We all wish to breathe… Let’s end all forms of inequality, misery, pain and suffering. We all deserve to have dreams, live and prosper with the wind of justice guiding the way. The consequences are proving too great. The alternative is a universal truth: No justice – no peace! We all need justice and peace right now in New York City, now more than ever…”
UPDATE: Londell paid a visit to Bed-Stuy tonight to visit the candlelight vigils and pay his respects to the officers that were killed on the corner of Tompkins Ave. and Myrtle Ave. on Saturday night.