An examination of the "Black Lives Matter" and the "Blue Lives Matter" movements
The Black Lives Matter protests increased when the death of George Floyd occured on May 25 2020. The 45 year-old black man was killed by a police officer during his arrest based on a counterfeit bill. Three officers were charged, one with second degree murder, the other two with aiding the murder. Although this event awakened the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020, this was not the first sign of the movement. The first documented event that was the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement was on February 26, 2012, when a 17 year-old boy went with his father to visit his father’s fiancee. The boy, Trayvon Martin, was shot by George Zimmerman who was later charged with second degree murder after calling the police because the young boy looked to him like a “suspicious person” in the neighborhood. Martin’s death sparked a controversy as it was debated as to whether Zimmerman should be charged with manslaughter, Zimmerman claimed to simply be a concerned citizen.
The Black Lives Matter movement's mission statement is to take instances when a person's race has put them in danger, such as instances in which black lives have been taken due to police brutality, “concerned citizens”, and other killings. The more recent instance,
Photo courtesy of BBC News British however, has been centered around police brutality.
protesters continue to fight for the The most recent case being with the police shooting of
Black Lives Matter movement 29 year-old black man Jacob Blake. Jacob Blake is a
overseas. Celebrating the lives of father of four children whose family were advocates for
Elijah McClain, George Floyd, and Black Lives Matter and equal housing. Blake was shot
Breonna Taylor protests in Britain on August 23, 2020 by officer Rusten Sheskey in
coincide with those in the United Wisconsin; the officer fired seven shots with four of
States to show support for the them hitting Blake in his back. Since the shooting movement. Blake is now paralyzed while Sheskey takes administrative leave pending the investigation.
The Black Lives Matter movement was founded on July 13, 2013, as a social movement using “civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people” quoted from the official BLM website. According to CNN, Blake’s mother recently called for “peaceful protest “ claiming that her son would “not be pleased with the violence and destruction”. Black Lives Matter for the large majority of its existence has been based on peaceful protests and speaking out against racism. According to Time magazine, 93% of the Black Lives Matter protests have been peaceful. “2,400 locations have reported peaceful protests, while less than 220 reported ‘violent demonstration’.”. Although the protests are mostly peaceful, it's common to have police force surrounding the protesters.
The Blue Lives Matter movement was in response to cop hatred after the murders of African Americans such as Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, and Michael Brown. The Blue Lives Matter supporters support police officers in their job often quoting "support our boys in blue", having been founded on December 20, 2014. The idea behind Blue Lives Matter is to show that officers often have to make difficult decisions and react accordingly when on the job, often putting themselves in danger. It is also common for authority figures when speaking in regard to the killings of African Americans by police, to refer to the officers as a few "bad apples" in the good bunch.
The beginning of the Blue Lives Matter movement was based on when two officers in December of 2014 were killed by a "fanatic of the Black Lives Matter Movement". The movement then turned in to a human rights countermovement to those who killed officers, those convicted for killing an officer- under this movement- is believed to be a hate crime statute.
To fully understand what the Blue Lives Matter movement stands for one must understand the true meaning of a hate crime. According to the Department of Justice, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act defines that to be convicted of a hate crime is to commit a crime based on "actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or gender of any person.". Meaning the Blue Lives Matter movement's goal is to have the killing of Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles
a police officer equal to that of killing someone Times, protesters show their support based on their skin color. This comes full circle “backing the boys in blue." Los Angeles to where the movements have intertwined citizens held a protest for the Blue
in more recent years. Lives Matter movement, as seen Annie
Burgen’s sign claimed the city “needs
blue” while standing outside the Hollywood
The clash of the black and blue in 2020 has been a fierce one, escalating more and more throughout the years. Many call for an abolishment of the police while others call for increasing their funding to feel safer. The principle of the Blue Lives Matter movement, according to their website, is simply to change the statute of what killing an officer means.The principle of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to their website, is to protest against racially motivated violence.
It is understandable that officers make difficult decisions on the job, however, it should not get to the point of taking the law into their own hands. Furthermore, killing someone simply because they are an officer changes the inherent meaning of a hate crime. Ultimately, becoming a police officer or law enforcement agent is one's choice, their occupation. The argument of skin color compared to occupation is the biggest difference between the Black and Blue Lives Matter movements. The Black Lives Matter movement fights against racism experienced by black Americans, because no one gets to choose their skin color. Changing the meaning of a hate crime by adding officers, an occupation, would change the stature all together. Then it would need to include military and other protective services, and other important occupations. While officer's lives should be honored for their service, it's unfair to give any special treatment to the officers that commit similar hate crimes while on duty by taking the law into their own hands. The goal of police departments across America is to "protect and serve", and that should apply to all citizens, not based on their race.
Story by Elena Hernandez '21