#BlackLivesMatter: In Defense of Black Lives Matter

black-lives-matter-bll-oreilley_1_670xThere is a war on Black Lives Matters. There is a deliberate effort to discredit and neutralize that progressive movement. The opposition has desperately tried to link the movement to the killing of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth. The critics assert that the movement’s rhetoric and slogans inspired the violence. Fox News described the movement as a “murder movement” and a “hate group.”

There are two problems with such assertions. First of all, Black Lives Matter does not advocate violence against police. The opposition cannot point to any statements made by Black Lives leaders explicitly encouraging violence against law enforcement. If they had such proof, they would have repeatedly broad casted such statements on Fox News and other news stations.

The protest chants that Fox News did broadcast are ambiguous at best. By the way, the term “pig” is not a reference to all police officers. Pigs are police officers who abuse their authority and abuse the people. Pigs are those who unjustifiably harass, intimidate, humiliate, racially profile, beat and kill black people. Such criminals masquerading as police officers have earned our condemnation. Such condemnation is not the same as advocating indiscriminate violence against police.

Second, there is absolutely no connection between the movement and the killer. In fact, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman acknowledged that he has no “details of a motive.” There is no proof that alleged killer, Shannon J. Miles, was affiliated with the Black Lives Matters movement. There is no proof that he was inspired by the movement. Instead of blaming and condemning Black Lives Matter, the critics should blame and condemn the alleged killer,Shannon J. Miles.

In addition, people have attacked the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” During his press conference, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said we should “drop the qualifiers” and say “lives matter.” Obviously, the Movement is not saying that non-black lives do not matter. They are emphasizing black lives because American society devalues black lives. For example, police disproportionately target and kill black people. As reported on the Huffington Post,

Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police…

ProPublica’s risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.

Often, when the police kill black people, the police are not prosecuted. On the rare occasions when they are prosecuted, they are not convicted. For that reason, the emphasis on black lives is appropriate. Washington Post reports:

“To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way,” said Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green who studies arrests of police. “It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

But even in these most extreme instances, the majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post analysis found.

And when they are convicted or plead guilty, they’ve tended to get little time behind bars, on average four years and sometimes only weeks. Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order, according to prosecutors and defense lawyers…

Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.

Nearly all other cases­ involved black officers who killed black victims. In one other instance, a Latino officer fatally shot a white person and in another an Asian officer killed a black person. There were a total of 49 victims.

Such alarming statistics regarding low prosecution rates and low conviction rates generate righteous black outrage. In light of the statistical disparities, it is simply ridiculous for Kelvin Jackson to dismiss the movement as “nonsense.”

We have to understand that this is nothing new. The opposition often deploys Negro proxies to discredit the movement. Those black surrogates buffer claims of racism and add legitimacy to the racist opposition. They use official mouthpieces like Kevin Jackson and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to justify racial profiling and police brutality. Sheriff Clarke actually claimed that Black Lives Matter has weakened policing.

Police accountability does not weaken policing. Police do not have to resort to unjustified brutality in order to be effective.  Furthermore, racial profiling wastes resources by unnecessarily targeting innocent black and Latino people based solely on the color of their skin. Such resources should be devoted to targeting actual criminals. Racial profiling and police brutality undermine policing by breeding animosity and distrust in the black community. Without trust, the people are less likely to report crime, and they are less likely to cooperate with the police.

Not only does the opposition use official Negro spokespeople, they exploit gullible, uninformed African Americans on social media. When African Americans get on camera and attack the Black Lives Matter Movement and other prominent civil rights groups, the opposition and corporate media share, promote and make those videos go viral.  Such videos deflect away from police brutality and over emphasize so-called black-on-black violence. They focus on elements of so-called black dysfunction and virtually ignore the police brutality.  Police brutality and inner city violence are two completely separate issues. Those issues must be addressed separately. The suggestion that urban violence must end before we can address police brutality is absurd.

We must defend the Black Lives Matter movement. We should not allow anyone to label the movement as a hate group. In the words of Malcolm X, “a label can kill you.” Remember the government labeled the original Black Panther Party (“BPP”) as a hate group. While the larger black community just sat back and watched, BPP leaders and members were jailed and killed. We cannot allow that to happen Black Lives Matter. We must defend, protect and strengthen them.


[Originally posted at New Possibilities]