A Christmas Day vigil was held at the site where two uniformed NYPD officers were shot and killed last week, marking a support for police that was desperately needed on this important holiday.
Officers of every rank came out to pay their respects for fallen officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos who were slain last week by Ismaaiyl Brinsley in a pre-meditated attack that was said to be in retaliation for recent deaths at the hands of other police officers around the country. But all politics were put aside as tribute was being given to the two officers and their families who would have a very different Christmas this year.
Twenty-one year old Cuerisha Browne told the New York Times about why she came down to pay respects to the officers when she could have just as easily stayed at home and celebrated the joyous holiday with her family. "I said, 'I'm going down to the memorial,' " she told her mother, who was finishing cooking their Christmas dinner at home in Brooklyn. Cuerisha said that her mother originally protested her daughter's decision because the two disagreed about police treatment of black people, but she left anyway. "The thing is," said Ms. Browne, "they were human beings."
Around mid-day, a bus carrying dozens of clergy members from various Hispanic churches in the area pulled up near the new shrine. "Peace on Earth and good will towards men," the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, the president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition said when he and the others arrived. "We thought it was appropriate to be here."
The clergy members joined hands with police officers and said several prayers for the fallen officers. One of the slain officers, Rafael Ramos, was only hours away from a graduation ceremony that would have made him a full-fledged lay chaplain in the NYPD.
"He told me that his job even with the NYPD, he felt he was doing God's work," the Rev. Marcos Miranda, president of the New York State Chaplain Task Force, told Arise America in a recent interview.
Ramos, 40, had just completed a 10-week course for lay champlaincy, and the day he was murdered was to be his graduation ceremony.
"He felt that he was protecting and serving his community and that was a sort of a ministry for him. And I totally agreed with him," Marcos added. "He said this type of ministry, the chaplaincy, he could see himself doing this in the future as a full-time ministry after he retired from the NYPD."
Ramos left behind a wife, Maritza, and two sons. Officer Liu left behind his wife, Pei Xia, whom he had married less than three months before his death.
Officer Charlene Torres brought her son and nephew to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood vigil to give a Christmas prayer of her own. "I come here and I pray that they are well and that as time goes on, their hearts heal. They deserve that," Officer Torres said. "They deserve much more. They deserve them to be with them for Christmas."