Honoring the Sacrifice Made by NYPD Officers Mora & Rivera
Mora & Rivera were Policemen, Civilians, Minorities, Immigrant and son of, Husband, Sons, Brothers and Real Heroes
What Can We do to Make Sure they didn't die in Vain?
February 7, 2022 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Manhattan Buzz NYC.
On Wednesday morning I made my way into Manhattan to observe the funeral of slain NYPD Officer Mora. To be sure, it was a solemn occasion. I got off the subway near 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. Once above ground, I made my way to Fifth Avenue and 42nd where I came across the largest gathering of police officers I have ever seen in my life [see photo at right].
As I walked up Fifth Avenue, I could hear the eulogies over the loud speakers, echoing in the street. I took a few photos and some video of the gathering which spanned all the way up to 50th Street by St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Eventually I had to detour off of Fifth Avenue, make my way down to Sixth Avenue, and then cut back in at 50th Street to get close to the cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
A Communal Gathering of Policemen from the TriState Area and Beyond, at Officer Mora's Funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022
As I walked and listened I looked around at all of the policemen gathered in honor of a fellow member of the fraternal order of policemen – not just of New York City but of NYS - and for that matter - the U.S. All of the police men and women were standing, some standing silently listening to the speeches, while others made small talk with each other, between the speeches, about their kids, their families, their jobs, their departments [homicide / detectives / street patrolmen], cars and boats, as well as chatting about which police department or organization they represented.
It reminded me of other funerals I had attended, which it’s been said, are for the living – not the dead. Yes, we come to honor the dead, but they have since gone. And it is left to us who are left behind, to make sense of things. It is our job to figure out how to take the lessons their lives and make them work for us, so that they will not have died in vain.
The expansiveness of the showing of support was somewhere between impressive and overwhelming, as I walked silently through this sea of dark blue, which filled over 8 city blocks on a wide avenue - and which spilled well into the cross streets both east and west of the entire eight blocks. There were thousands of police, mostly men with some women, mostly white but also many minorities, who had come to pay their last respects for a member of their ranks who had made the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice that all of them know they must be ready to make each day as they don their dark coats to serve and protect the community. Us.
I noticed the badges sewn to their coats, representing Trenton and Teaneck New Jersey, Suffolk and Nassau Counties, New York State, and of course the NYPD, as well as a smattering of policemen from more distant communities. They projected a sense of sadness and courtesy, as I made my way through the crowd. I sensed that they must also have felt some measure of comfort, standing there, side by side with others like themselves, knowing that they are supported by so many others who share their sense of duty, ready to face down danger.
This seemed a bit like a George Floyd like moment for the police in the city and perhaps the nation. These two young officers, were senselessly murdered, while responding to a domestic violence call within a few blocks of the 32nd precinct Harlem police station where the two police officers worked. Shortly after the policemen entered the apartment, the assailant shot them down with a barrage of bullets from a semi-automatic gun which the assailant had stolen in Maryland.
As I came upon St Patrick’s Cathedral, surrounded by the police, it seemed like a fortress with its big, thick church doors closed, to keep out the noise and cold air while the mass continued inside. A coterie of media people were on a platform across the street from the front of the cathedral, waiting for the doors to open. The Mayor, Police Commissioner Sewell and Wilbur Mora’s brother and sister gave speeches. Karina, Mora's sister, gave her speech in Spanish, as the Moras immigrated here from the Dominican Republic decades ago.
- CLICK here for the rest of our report about the Tribute Paid to Slain Officers Mora & Rivera of Harlem Precinct.
The Role of Semi Automatic Weapons in the Murders of Officers Mora & Rivera
These past two years have been unsettling to all of us. The city and the nation have been hit hard by two pandemics – the Corona Virus pandemic and a pandemic of gun violence. Gun sales these past two years have been the two biggest gun sales years in the nation, with sales of nearly 23 million in 2020 [a record] and nearly 20 million sold in 2021, which was second only to 2021. And among those sales, are these high-powered automatic guns, that are about as near to machine guns as you can get without them actually being called that.
In tandem with the record gun sales, we’ve also seen a rise in shootings of both the police and civilians, by both police and civilians. There are good civilians and bad civilians, just like there are good cops and bad cops. According to the reports regarding the incident to which Officers Mora and Rivera responded, they were heavily outgunned by the perpetrator, who sprayed them with bullets coming out of a semi-automatic gun that was illegally acquired. They say that ‘only the good die young’ and there’s no doubt that the youthful deaths of Officers Rivera and Mora support that statement.
Officers Mora and Rivera made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to serve and protect the NYC community. Both men are emblematic of the kind of police officers this nation needs. But they are now gone.
Eulogies - What Officers Mora & Rivera Represented
But they left something for us to think about, hang onto and work with. They were protecting the rule of law by which we are all governed. Black, white, brown, yellow, red and white. Old, young, rich, poor. Strong, weak, smart, dumb.
Liberals and Conservatives. Men, women and everything in between [LBGTQ]. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Buddhists, Sikhs, Shintoists and everything in between. They were fighting to protect all of us.
Whether we want to recognize it or not, We are all one people. We inhabit one planet. We inhabit one nation. And we inhabit one city. We are the ‘We The People’ written into the Constitution bv the Founding Fathers who gave us a chance to govern ourselves - instead of being treated like children like in so many other nations in the world, with no opportunity to speak out or to change things.
In the photo at right a woman, all bundled up, braved the cold to make a statement in support of the men and women in blue.
Duty, Sacrifice & Lincoln's Gettysburg Address
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address came to mind as I was watching the funeral. Here it is.
" Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this."
" But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
November 19, 1863
Abraham Lincoln also sacrificed his life for us. Like Mora and Rivera, he too made the ultimate sacrifice so that we may all, one day, learn to work together to fix our societal problems and live in peace and harmony. Like Lincoln said of the soldiers, I know that we cannot thank NYPD Officers Rivera and Mora enough for their sacrifice ... with words alone.
John Donne - For Whom does the Bell Toll? It Tolls for Thee.
As I departed from St Pat’s Cathedral the bells began to toll. It reminded me of something John Donne wrote, “Never send for whom bell tolls? It tolls for thee.”
That thought rang in my head like the church bells rang through the streets.
The bells of the church at the funeral of Officer Mora were tolling for all of us to come together, to listen to each other, to work through our differences through compromise, to find middle ground so we can solve our problems, and so that someday tragic events like this, will be the stuff of history books and not the headlines in the weekly news.
What Can we do? Increase Gun Control, Investigate Bail Reform Impact & Revisions, & Make Additional Investments in Poorer Communities
More National Gun Control is Needed, Particularly vis a vis Semi-Automatic Weapons like those used to murder Mora and Rivera. Large majorities of the people of this nation want more sensible gun control, but vocal and powerful forces are blocking the passage of any meaningful gun legislation. Were these semi-automatic guns not so easily acquired, it’s possible that Rivera and Mora might still be alive today.
To that end President Biden, NYS Governor Hochul and NYC Mayor Adams are working to rein in the trafficking of guns from mostly southern states and some of the states located along the Mason Dixon line, where gun laws are more lax than in the northeast, where the guns end up in the wrong hands. It's worth mentioning that contrary to what Murdoch's Fox News says, the murder rate in the southern states, which are mostly Republican, accounted for nearly half of all murders in the U.S. in 2019 per an FBI report at the end of that year.
Most Americans want the sale of semi-automatic weapons [of war] constrained or eliminated, they want tighter registration of guns so that the weapons used by murderers can be tracked. And they want more regulation of gun sales, again so they don’t end up in the wrong hands.
No Causal Link Established between Bail Reform & Shootings BUT Qualitatively there Appear to be some links between Bail Reform and Repeating Offenders. Another thing that needs changing was raised by Officer Rivera’s wife, which was that the justice / policy pendulum swung too far in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The justice / bail reform passed by the NYS Legislature needs more work, so that criminals are not released on their own reconnaissance too quickly, if they are deemed to represent a threat to society. Legislators need to work with law enforcement representatives to find sensible, middle ground. That said, studies done in search of finding a causal link between bail reform releases and violent crime have not yet succeeded in scientifically establishing a link. But that said, qualitatively and anecdotally, the NYPD tells us that bail reform is contributing to increases in criminal activity, so it seems the Legislature should at the very least investigate the links further.
Investing Policing Capability as well as in Efforts to Eradicate the Root Causes of Crime which is Lack of Access to Resources & Opportunities. And in addition to keeping the NYPD funded, we need to address the gaping economic disparities that leave a small number of people in our society with everything, while fully half the nation has nearly nothing.
The top 20% own 86% of the nation’s wealth, while the bottom 80% own the remaining 14%. I don’t think any of us begrudge the rich their wealth, but not at the expense of so many who have nothing. The rich need to share more with the rest of us, instead of hoarding wealth, in a manner not dissimilar to how a cancerous tumor that sucks up the body’s nutrients, and either crowds out or starves the rest of the body [society] functionality until the body [whole system] collapses. FDR modified / dampened the severe exploitation baked into the American system in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but these gains have since been lost by most Americans today. Investing in people is one of the best investments you can make in society's safety, productivity and overall well being.
Because of this lopsided distribution of wealth, the poor and unbalanced are left unattended with nothing, and resort to senseless violence to be seen and heard because they have nothing to lose. Thus, crime needs to be addressed through multiple channels ranging from investments in law enforcement to education to social programs to mental health programs to creating economic opportunities and jobs. In this manner, over time, we can relieve the police of carrying the lion’s share of the responsibility in addressing the under resourced folks’ issues, as they have not been equipped with the full set of tools required to address and fix the root causes that contribute to criminal behavior. Maintaining a peaceful and orderly society is – in a sense – the duty and responsibility of all of us.
Epilogue - Edmund Burke - The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is for [Enough] Good [wo]Men to do Nothing
We all have the capacity to do good, make contributions to society, just as we all have the capacity to do bad things, do highly destructive things to society. In part what determines which way we’ll go, is who we are surrounded by - meaning family, friends and community - as well as the opportunities / access to resources we encounter throughout our lives. We can’t control all of the variables, but we would be remiss if we didn’t make an effort to control those that we can. As Edmund Burke, the 18th century Irish English statesman, once said,
"The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing."
We lost two good men last month. It’s up to us to see that they did not die in vain.
In the photo at right you can see the pop up memorial to slain NYPD officer Rivera on January 25, 2022. As the photo was taken just after lunch, on the day Officer Mora died, the memorial pictured was only for Rivera - as at the time we did not know that Mora had died. The memorial was in front of the 32nd Precinct of the NYPD on 135th Street in Harlem. In yet another indication of the kind of man Officer Mora was, he donated his organs which enabled five other people to live.