Why We Should Not Forget Miriam Carey
For the past week I’ve been talking with anyone I could shoehorn about the shooting death of Miriam Carey on the streets of Washington DC. As with any homicide -- and that’s how it would be classified for the autopsy -- there are differing opinions and mitigating circumstances to consider.
For instance, the mitigating circumstance most articulated by officialdom and the media to justify the killing of Miriam Carey is that the threat of terrorism is in the forefront of the minds of police officers in the nation’s capital, where 17 days earlier a random gunman had murdered 12 people at the Navy Yard.
In the case of Miriam Carey, 34, the consensus seems to be her killing was a tragedy in which police officers were justified in killing her. They were, accordingly, honored on the floor of Congress for doing their duty during a time of great national stress aggravated by an unprecedented shutdown of the federal government. The capital police officers who killed Miriam Carey were working without pay. The media news cycle has moved on, and the government shutdown remains the big story.
Likewise, we didn’t hear much about John Constantino. The day after Miriam Carey’s killing, the 64-year-old Mount Laurel, New Jersey, man, also an African American, drove to the capital city, and at about 4:30 in the afternoon, on the mall between the Air & Space Museum and the National Gallery, sat down on the grass facing the Capitol building, poured gasoline all over himself and set himself ablaze. Witnesses reported he said something about “voters’ rights” or “voting rights.” The married father of three grown children died later in the hospital. A lawyer hired by Constanino’s family said his act was not political and that he was mentally ill.
Constantino’s neighbor, Joe Horner, told a different story to a New York Daily News reporter. Constantino, Horner said, “didn’t like the government for some reason. ... He said to me, ‘They’re no good. They don’t look out for us and they don’t care about anything but their own pockets.’ ”