It’s always fascinating to see how quickly blame shifts. As soon as there is an opportunity to point and say “Well look at what they did,” the weak and irresponsible pounce. It’s like with my kids. My son will do something wrong to my daughter and get in trouble but as soon as he finds something she’s done wrong he starts the, “But Payton did…” blues. Mind you, they are 6 and 7, but grown folks use the same tactics.
This weekend I heard of a Black man shooting two police officers and I knew what would follow. Blame shift city. Suddenly the anti-police brutality protestors are to blame for the shooting. A shooting only one man committed. But like all groups of people, when there is a threat to few, the whole gets defensive and wants to protect themselves from suffering the same plight. It’s natural.
However, what’s really perverse and unnatural is looking at the actions of one man and discounting the real concerns of hundreds of thousands of others. Now, before you go drawing conclusions, let me explain a few things. First, I will say that no person is right for killing another person; regardless of the race, profession, gender, etc of the shooter or the victim. Wrong is wrong is wrong.
Secondly, I do not blame a group for the actions of one member of the group. I will not blame all Black people for shooting those two cops. I will not blame every white person for the deaths of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and Mike Brown and I’ll just stop now because this list can go on for five blog posts. However, I do understand why all cops will get blamed for something a few cops have done. They are a part of an organization. A group of public SERVANTS who are trained and held to a higher standard. And the blame isn’t directed at them individually but at the police force as a whole.
That said, it adds grave insult to unfathomable injury to suggest that Black people should stop protesting police brutality because a couple of cops got shot by a man. Do you think anyone would’ve asked to pause World War II if a Jewish person murdered a few Nazis? And we are at war. We are fighting for our lives. There’s no “time-out” in war. Mourn your losses like we mourned ours but we will not take a break for you because people have been getting murdered by cops the whole time we’ve been protesting.
Furthermore, when a cop is murdered or when a Black person murders someone (and sometimes even when they don’t) someone goes to jail. This also answers the question as to why we don’t march over “black on black” crime (Although a group did just do that following the shooting at Rosemary Anderson HS). When a Black person pulls a trigger they get arrested and go to trial and go to jail and are executed and all that jazz that is supposed to happen. We protest more than cops killing people. We protest cops getting away with brutality and murder. As soon as Black folks start gunning down cops every 28 hours and get away with it, your point might be valid.
BUT, none of this is even a competition. There does not have to be a winner or loser. Too many people fear that this is a zero-sum game and for someone to win another has to lose. This is not true. We all just want to be valued and given the same opportunity to seek justice as everyone else. Valuing Black lives doesn’t take away from the value of white ones. The loss of any life is tragic. I am deeply sorry for the families of those cops in Brooklyn as well as the shooter’s girlfriend who he shot earlier the same day (notice how nobody has said much about her?). The shooter in this case sadly took his own life and will not go on trial. But I doubt that the families involved will have to live with the pain of knowing that the murderer is free (and like with Darren Wilson, profiting from their deaths).
And to my people, we’re going to keep fighting and protesting and trying to make sure that when a Black/brown/poor life is taken, the murdered goes to trial. At least. It’s sad to say that a trial would with a not-guilty outcome would be better than the passive aggressive BS we have been getting. We just want a chance to get a chance. A smidgen of value added to our lives. And this is why we must continue to fight. We will not stop.