A man walks up to the parked black-and-white cruiser and fires point-blank through the passenger window, then runs away. The stricken officers manage to stagger out of the vehicle and call for assistance. They are whisked away to the hospital for emergency surgery (and are now, thankfully, recovering).
The attack was a heinous and cowardly act, but what came Âafterward was, if obviously much less serious, infuriating in its own right.
A black man who had witnessed the Compton shooting or its immediate aftermath narrates what has happened on video, his voice filled with joy and excitement. Using a slang term for shooting someone, he exults, "N - - - a just aired the police out, n - - - as!"
"It goes down in Compton!" he continues, the cruiser and the wounded officers in the background. "Oh, two sheriffs shot in the face!"
None of the several people on the sidewalk near the amateur videographer shows the slightest inclination to help the officers. In fact, shouts can be heard of, "No justice, no peace," which would seem grotesquely inappropriate — except the go-to slogan of Black Lives Matter and other hard-left protesters has always carried the threat of violence.
The LA shooter has yet to be apprehended, and his motive is unknown. Perhaps the attack was completely random or the attacker is mentally ill. The perpetrator of a similar ambush on officers in New York City in 2014, both murdered in cold blood, said in an Instagram post that he carried out his attack to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown, both killed in police-involved incidents.
But there is no getting around the sentiment of the bystanders or the rabble that showed up, disgracefully, at the hospital where the officers were taken, shouting abuse at the police ( "Oink, oink," "Y'all going to die one by one").
There are several things to say about this. One is that these cretins apparently hadn't gotten the message that BLM is supposedly all about reforming the police, rather than expressing a comprehensive, unthinking animus against the cops.
Another is that cops have to deal with these sort of spontaneous hostile crowds all the time now in the course of their work, which makes it more dangerous and difficult — with the citizens of crime-ridden areas paying the steepest price.
Finally, it should go without saying that it is wrong and deeply illiberal to flatten all police officers into stereotypes. The officers shot in LA were a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old child and a 24-year-old man, both of whom had only joined the force a little over a year ago. They aren't symbols but real people who should be honored and respected.
Presumably, none of the elite members of the vast media, corporate and cultural apparatus that has made, almost instantaneously, BLM part of America's civil religion supports killing cops or insulting them and their colleagues when they are gunned down. But in their fervent embrace of a poisonous and simplistic narrative about policing in America, they are telling a lie about the cops, one repeated over and over again and without challenge in swaths of American life.
If the police are a racist, occupying force, why not resist and harass them? Why not consider them all the same — and all equally guilty?
It would be nice if famous people bothered to learn the names of the wounded LA officers and held them up as heroes. It would be nice if they condemned not just the ambush but the ensuing verbal abuse of the cops. It would be nice if they decided to stand for the national anthem to pay tribute to the sacrifice of the LA officers and their fellow men and women in blue — but all that would require more respect for police than much of the American elite can bring itself to muster in 2020.