When I first started using the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in posts about racism, I was surprised at how many people responded by affirming their support for law enforcement. I didn’t understand what one had to do with the other.
I reached out to a few friends in law enforcement and asked about their views on the Black Lives Matter movement. For the most part they supported the movement’s premise, but had major problems with the organization’s anti-cop message and activity. I did more research and realized that the organization does indeed have a history of hateful speech and actions against law enforcement.
When I saw an anti-police rally being organized in a local BLM-ally Facebook group I was in, I reached out to the group administrator to inquire if one of the goals of the group was to target police in a negative way. She responded in a less-than-friendly way that I should not have been asking and promptly blocked me from the group.
I get it now in a way I didn’t just a few months ago—the friction between the BLM movement and LEOs. And to be honest, I’m not really sure what to do about it.
It’s hard to hold the tension of recognizing that there is brokenness in our system that demands change, and also valuing and supporting law enforcement officers as individuals. But I’m willing to guess that’s where most of us find ourselves.
So, I guess we just keep holding it. We continue to say Black lives matter, and have the hard conversations, and advocate for change. And we continue to voice support for those in law enforcement who risk their lives and sacrifice for our safety. We do the work and commit to holding two things that seem opposed but don’t have to be.
I support and stand for Black lives AND law enforcement. You can do both.
Thanks to Koshu Kunii for sharing their work on Unsplash.