Being a police officer is a choice. Being black is not.

Illustration by Ricardo Rodriguez

Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor

For centuries, black Americans have found themselves leading movement after movement in an effort to be rewarded with the same privileges and freedoms as the rest of the nation. The civil rights movement was a prominent example of such activism. Today, Black Lives Matter advocates for collective justice for black Americans. Yet, for some reason unbeknownst to me, it has struck controversy for years. Meanwhile, the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, which is an anti-black agenda disguised as being pro-cop, seems to be growing effortlessly.

Police brutality is the latest form of assault against the black American community. For a majority of my adolescence, I’ve heard the stories of innocent black people being wrongfully murdered by law enforcement, the same law enforcement that is in place to protect the public. Tamir Rice. Sandra Bland. Oscar Grant. Michael Brown. It’s completely disheartening to know that people who look like me — who share my color — are targets for police officers all over the nation.

I’ve heard about Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Oakland and everything in between. But police brutality is a national epidemic, and Richmond certainly has not been spared. I remember coming to VCU in 2018 and hearing the story of Marcus-David Peters and the injustice and neglect that resulted in him being killed by police in May 2018.

Peters was a 24-year-old science teacher and VCU alum who was shot by police officers in broad daylight. He was unarmed and naked, although that didn’t seem to make a difference to armed officers. They tried to subdue Peters with a taser, and when that was ineffective, one of the officers shot him.

Peters’ story becomes more enraging upon learning that then-Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring decided not to press charges against the two officers involved. Herring found that Peters’ murder was “an act of justifiable homicide.” 

This story is not a complete matter of black versus white. I am well aware that one of the officers involved in this case was black. In fact, the video of Peters being tased shows a black hand holding the weapon. The issue isn’t exclusive to white officers it implicates police as a whole.

Like the entire U.S. justice system, police officers have managed to turn their authority into another systematically oppressive mechanism that results in the deaths of thousands of black Americans. The “Blue Lives Matter” movement only revealed itself after the already established Black Lives Matter movement began addressing police brutality. 

The National Police Association says that “Blue Lives Matter is a movement supporting police officers & their sacrifices nationwide.”

So we are clear, I am not anti-cop; I respect their constant sacrifice. However, I am not going to support a movement that was created in hopes of overshadowing and squashing growing black activism.“Blue Lives Matter” is not pro-cop, it’s anti-black.

Let me ask you: If this movement isn’t anti-black, why couldn’t it have been named something that isn’t a complete rip off of Black Lives Matter?

First, and foremost, you are not born a blue life. Unlike black people, if you cannot deal with the realities that come with the job, you can take off your uniform. Secondly, saying that black lives matter does not mean we are condoning the killing of others. In a country where black people are overlooked seems fit that we remind you that our lives matter, too. 

The only reason people tend to mistake the Black Lives Matter movement as one that encourages murder and violence is because that is exactly what the “Blue Lives Matter” movement does. To protect and to serve. Unless they’re black, right? 

Black Lives Matter is not simply a movement. It is change. It is meant to bring power, justice and help build the black community. The “Blue Lives Matter” sham is just another facade to take the spotlight away from black people in hopes of silencing their cries. 

Black people are not spewing anti-cop rhetoric. Perhaps, instead of assembling yet another institutional barrier disguised as some humanitarian project, we can stop killing unarmed black Americans.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply