(September 28, 2020)
Amid the growth in the Black Lives Matter movement and the recent protests related to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others, there has been a growing counter-protest movement centered around the police force with the slogans “Blue Lives Matter” and “Back the Badge,” among other variations.
“Blue lives” are the lives of members of police departments.
However, there is no such reality as “blue lives”; there is no race with blue-colored people.
Rather, members of a police department choose this profession and all of the risks that go along with it.
On the other hand, Black persons and People of Color had no choice in their race.
Do police officers’ lives matter? Yes. But “blue lives” do not receive preferential treatment over Black lives or any other lives.
One can oppose police brutality while not attacking law enforcement. To use the trite term, all of their lives matter.
When members of the police are murdered, their family members often receive vindication in the court system. However, this is not the case for Black lives. The verdict from Breonna Taylor’s murder speaks to this. I still remember the verdict following the Rodney King trial.
America has a long history of favoring “Blue Lives” over Black lives.
I do hear some blue lives supporters state, “Of course the murder of George Floyd was wrong; the majority of police officers agree to this.”
Blue lives supporter Cardinal Timothy Dolan stated, “Do police forces deserve criticism sometimes? You bet they do. The vicious killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd by a policeman, with his partners idly watching, reminds us in a nauseating way that for some cops, Black lives do not matter. The most stinging rebuke of that outrage in Minneapolis that I hear comes from – guess who? The cops I chat with on the sidewalks of New York.”
If police officers do agree that what happened to George Floyd was wrong and shouldn’t happen again, a Blue Lives Matter rally does not achieve this. Rather, there ought to be a public rally for police atonement.
Police forces nationwide ought to publicly and collectively denounce the wrong incurred upon George Floyd, Philando Castile, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, among so many others, admit the police committed an injustice, and seek forgiveness.
Additionally, police forces ought to make public restitution in terms of a commitment to antiracism through ongoing training as well as accept punitive penalties for future actions committed against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) lives.
But Blue Lives and Back the Badge rallies do not incorporate any of these elements. Rather, there is no admission of wrongdoing but a focus on the victimhood of police officers. This bait and switch is a form of gaslighting.
The trajectory post-George Floyd is as follows:
- A police officer murdered George Floyd.
- People took to the streets to protest the murder of George Floyd.
- Some protestors called for the defunding of police.
- In response to both the death of George Floyd and the call for defunding the police, out of fear especially of the latter, some counter-protestors organized rallies supporting police officers with the Blue Lives Matter or Back the Badge slogans.
Supporting police officers as a means to evade wrongdoing is in itself wrong. Police officers, as all people, ought to be held accountable for their actions.
One might argue that police officers ought to be measured on a higher standard given their role to uphold the law and the inherent power dynamic in having the badge.
If Blue Lives and the Badge were ideals, then police departments ought to exhibit exquisite representations as law-abiding professionals, and any members who deviate from these ideals ought to be firmly corrected to preserve morally exquisite police departments.
Police forces would desire to have such bad actors dealt with so as to promote the impeccable image of law enforcement.
However, bad cops are being swept under the rug, and police department ideals are mere window dressing.
Moreover, Blue Lives Matter, being a counter-protest relative to the Black Lives Matter movement, is inherently problematic.
The mission statement of the Black Lives Matter Global Organization is one of eradicating white supremacy. To be against this tenet is to be in favor of white supremacy. Therefore, I posit that being anti-Black Lives Matter while being pro-Blue Lives is a covert form of white supremacy.
A professor from a Jesuit institution Creighton University referred to a Back the Blue rally in Omaha, Nebraska in a tweet as a “White supremacist rally in Omaha to showcase Midwestern racism.” While the merits and diplomacy of making such a statement are certainly debatable, based on the logic established above the professor was not incorrect.
These rallies are covert forms of white supremacy, regardless if minorities were speaking at this rally. Rather, they signify continued complicity in and the cover-up of white supremacy.
Unfortunately, Creighton University, my alma mater – which has enacted many antiracism efforts in 2020 – caved into pressure and issued a statement denouncing the professor’s actions, and the professor concurrently issued an apology of his own.
Not only do these police rallies exhibit covert white supremacy, but they in turn reflect white fragility.
Being called out for racism when racism is logically evident resulted in a negative response from these white supremacists.
In addition to tear-gassing protestors, police officers and their supporters are gaslighting the Black Lives Matter movement as well as evading the call for police departments to atone for wrongs committed against BIPOC lives.
The tear-gassing and gaslighting need to come to a halt if members of the badge would like to restore any form of credibility and trust.
Since what has been hidden has been revealed (cf. Luke 8:17) – i.e. the covert White supremacy – it is time for Blue Lives to wear sackcloth and ashes.