By MAHATHI RAVULA, freshman
2020 HAS BEEN a turbulent year to say the least, from COVID-19 to the Beirut explosion, both of which took the lives of many. Among the many crises which have occurred this year are the protests against cases of police brutality and racial injustice in this nation, and the people that first come to mind in association with this topic include George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Fighting for the justice of Black people who have lost their lives due to police brutality and blatant racism, the nation has come together to give those responsible their due punishment. The Black Lives Matter movement, initiated in 2013, strives to rid society of white supremacy and advocates equal opportunities for Black people. There are those, however, who have come in opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement in the form of the All/Blue Lives Matter movements. Unlike Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter is not a founded movement. People began saying “all lives matter” as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement this year. The Blue Lives Matter movement, an organized countermovement that emerged in defense of police officers in 2014, advocates that people who have been convicted of killing law enforcement officers should be sentenced under a hate crime sentence. The simple truth of the situation is that all lives cannot matter until Black lives matter, and the people responsible for these unspeakable and careless crimes must be punished for their actions.
The Black Lives Matter movement has faced serious backlash from a new movement of sorts called “All Lives Matter.” Protesters for the All Lives Matter “movement” are missing the bigger picture. Those saying “All Lives Matter” need to understand that as of now, in this country, Black people do not feel as though their lives matter. Saying all lives matter is contradictory during a time like this. It suggests that the Black lives of this country are not included in the “all.” All lives cannot matter when part of that all is being disrespectfully disregarded. For those thinking “What about my life? What about everyone else’s life?” that is not the issue right now. It is important to understand that saying “Black Lives Matter” does not mean that they matter more, but that they matter too. According to CNN, most white Americans can not begin to imagine what it feels like to be a Black person in this country, especially during a time like this. They will never experience the fear of possibly being killed by a fellow citizen or an official whose very job is supposed to be to keep them safe.
Since the protests this year, Blue Lives Matter has been defending the actions of the police officers who have killed these Black people by trying to paint them as heroes, consistently protesting against Black Lives Matter with rallies turning ugly and racist. One such pro-police rally was held in Nassau County on July 25th. One of the biggest so far, it was met with Black Lives Matter counter-protesters. Chants of “Black Lives Matter” were met with “All/ Blue Lives Matter” chants, taunts, and violent threats. There have been countless incidents like the one aforementioned with Black people being attacked and treated with violence as they try to peacefully protest. For example, in early July, a pro-police rally took place at Bay Ridge where peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters arrived. According to The New York Times, “[f]ists and insults flew even as police officers stood between the two groups.” 18-year-old Abdullah Akl, who helped organize the event, says, “[f] or pro-cop rallies to come down into the streets and yell ‘white lives matter’ or ‘blue lives matter,’ it almost takes away from the conversation.” Those saying “Blue Lives Matter” do not understand that police are not a marginalized group and that they do not experience racism in their own country. They are not faced with prejudice every day by the people who are supposed to keep them safe.
One of the main purposes of organized BLM protests is to attract the attention of the government and ask them to bring justice to the innocent Black people who have died. If a citizen commits an act of violence, they should be charged and given their punishment—that should apply to everyone. Then why is it that the government is not holding the people responsible for the deaths of these Black people accountable for their actions? One of the main causes of the public outcry that has prompted supporters of Black Lives Matter to protest in the midst of a pandemic is the government’s incompetence when it comes to putting these people and police officers behind bars. On September 23, a grand jury decided to not charge Breonna Taylor’s killers for her murder. The absolute injustice of this nation’s twisted system has been shown to the American people over the last few months.
Let’s pretend that George Floyd was a white man. Would he have suffered such a horrific death at the hands of the police officers responsible? Most likely not, and statistics prove this. Matt Miller, a professor at Northeastern University, recently conducted a study proving that Black people are shot and killed by police at twice the rate that white people are. George Floyd was the victim of police brutality largely because of his skin color. In the case of Ahmaud Arbery, he was chased through his neighborhood by three white men and fatally shot and killed while out on a jog. The delay of the investigation and arrest of people involved enraged the general public. Caught on video, the shooting provided audio of one of the men involved using racial slurs, suggesting that the motive had to do with Arbery’s skin color. This poses some questions: if Ahmaud Arbery was a white man, would he have been killed? If Ahmaud Arbery was a white man, would the case have been investigated earlier? The Marshall Project, a nonprofit which writes about criminal injustice, found that in one in six killings where a white person kills a Black man in America, there are no legal consequences.
It is a shame that Black people have had to endure such treatment in their own country for years, all because of the color of their skin. Black people have never been treated equally despite the progress that has been made over the last centuries. Although slavery has been abolished and segregation has been dismantled, Black people still face racism and prejudices every day, no matter how underlying it may seem. The Black Lives Matter movement aims to call out the government and other institutions on the ways that they have continued to treat Black people unjustly. Due to the fact that Black people are the victims of inherent inequities that persist in our justice system to this day, the least we can do is educate ourselves about the inequality in our country and support our Black citizens in their fight for justice.