Late last month, Ismaaiyl Brinsley showed up uninvited at his former girlfriend Shaneka Thompson’s apartment in Owings Mills, Maryland. After knocking on her door and gaining entry, Brinsley proceeded to argue with Thompson about their failed relationship, eventually shooting Thompson in the stomach.
Following the assault, Brinsley left the Baltimore suburb for his childhood hometown of Brooklyn, where he shot and killed two on-duty police officers as they sat in a patrol car. The grisly scene occurred while tension between cops and civilians is high, rendering the situation an easy target for inexact analysis, especially since Brinsley posted photos indicating he was killing for revenge. But what about Thompson? The cop slaying caught tons of press, but her name rarely appears. If she’s referenced at all, Thompson is often referred to briefly and without explanation—even though the murder of those cops in Brooklyn started at her place.
If we are going to understand why such violence occurs, we need to look at the entire picture. Domestic violence often precedes more “newsworthy” acts of aggression. The public seems adamant in reaffirming that such brutal cop killings are heinous. Why, then, is the attempted murder of Thompson a footnote to this tragedy?
Domestic violence doesn’t exist in a bubble. We must stop normalizing such actions and recognize that those who are violent at home are a problem for the whole community. Extreme acts of violence begin somewhere, in this case at the doorstep of Shaneka Thompson. Don’t erase her from the story.