The Black Lives Matter movement arose from the 2013 acquittal of neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed 17 year-old Trayvon Martin. Conservative media wasted no time pulling the trigger again on Martin, enacting a character assassination in the press against the deceased teenager.
It was only a matter of time before they set their sights on the movement itself, using the same tactic.
Fox News and conservative pundits have desperately attempted to tie the Black Lives Matter movement to the recent shooting death of Texas Deputy Darren Goforth, despite the fact there is no evidence of a connection.
“That’s what their agenda is, it’s okay to go ahead and kill cops,” Fox News’ “The Five” co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle declared on air. Guilfoyle is not a unique voice on the network; Bill O’Reilly clearly received the same talking points on the movement: “I think they’re a hate group and they hate police officers,” O’Reilly added, “they want them dead.”
Appearing on “The Kelly File,” Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich referred to Black Lives Matter as a “movement that promotes the execution of police officers.”
The shooting suspect in the Goforth case, Shannon Miles, has no known affiliation with the Black Lives Matter movement. However, that didn’t prevent Sheriff Ron Hickman from mentioning the group in a press conference:
“So at any point where the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control. We’ve heard black lives matter, all lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too, so why don’t we just drop the qualifiers and just say lives matter and take that to the bank.”
What Sheriff Hickman didn’t mention during the press conference is some incredibly pertinent information: that Miles has a history of mental illness and a criminal record, including a 2006 conviction for disorderly conduct with a firearm.
“It is unfortunate that Sheriff Hickman has chosen to politicize this tragedy and to attribute the officer’s death to a movement that seeks to end violence,” Black Lives Matter activist Deray McKeeson told the Houston Chronicle.
Footage of a recent Minnesota Black Lives Matter march showed select participants briefly chanting “Pigs in a blanket. Fry ‘em like bacon.” Fox News saw fuel for the fire the network had already started.
On “Fox & Friends,” co-host Elizabeth Hasselback discussed the chant with blogger Kevin Jackson:
“Why has the Black Lives Matter movement not been classified yet as a hate group? I mean, how much more has to go in this direction before someone actually labels it as such?”
Of course, Jackson agrees with Hasselback’s assessment. What else would you expect from a man who wrote this in response to the George Zimmerman trial:
“It’s difficult to fathom that blacks have fought so hard against racism, only to become the most racist people in the country.”
I see why “Fox & Friends” saved a spot for you, Kevin.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Black Lives Matter Minnesota organizer Trahern Crews, explained the chant as being “playful” with the officer “leading the parade.”
Crews added “the officer was laughing and joking along with the protesters.”
Minnesota Public Radio’s Tim Nelson live tweeted his coverage of the march, including the moment of the “Pigs in a blanket” chant.
Nelson posted a photo of the officer Crews mentions, with the officer’s response to the chant: “Everybody likes bacon. We can all get behind that!”
The chant was seemingly so insignificant to the overall march, Nelson did not even mention it in his article for MPR News.
In April, Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld wrote: “Strange that it’s only the police force where a few bad apples are cast as the norm.” Yet, this is exactly what Fox News and Gutfeld have done to BLM.
Although I feel it was a mistake to do the chant, it is far more detrimental to our nation’s progress to report this 30-second chant as representing the BLM movement.
Black Lives Matter is bringing attention to a very real issue in our country: that unarmed, black citizens are killed at an alarmingly high rate.
Last month, The Washington Post published a piece by Sandhya Somashekhar, Wesley Lowery and Keith L. Alexander discussing the climate of unarmed shootings one year after the shooting death of Michael Brown:
“Black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. The Post’s analysis shows that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed.”
THIS is what Black Lives Matter is about. Nobody from the movement is declaring black lives are superior to white lives, but you also can’t pretend they are equal when one group is killed at a higher rate than all others.
All those who attempt to hijack the movement with Police Lives Matter or All Lives Matter (as Sheriff Hickman did), hide the actual issue from society… again.
Unarmed deaths are far from the only injustice black citizens face.
According to a 2010 Pew Research Analysis, black males were more than six times as likely to be incarcerated in federal and state prisons, and local jails as white males.
A 2015 report from the non-profit The Sentencing Project found that when the Boston Police Department “observed, stopped, interrogated, frisked, or searched individuals without making an arrest,” 63% of the individuals were black males, even though they are only 24% of the city’s population.
Referencing nationwide surveys, the report concluded that black drivers were three times as likely as whites to be searched during police stops. Black drivers were twice as likely to be arrested. The report’s author, Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D., writes: “These patterns hold even though police officers generally have a lower ‘contraband hit rate’ when they search black versus white drivers.”
The report also states that 95% of over 3,500 police departments across the nation arrested black citizens at a higher rate than other races.
Ghandnoosh writes: “If recent trends continue, one of every three black teenage boys can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys – compared to one of every seventeen white boys.”
Black Lives Matter responded to the recent attacks from Fox News in a statement released via social media:
“Don’t be fooled. We’re targeting the brutal system of policing, not individual police. The Black Lives Matter Network seeks to end the system of policing that allows for unchecked violence against black people. Right-wing portrayals of this as targeting of individual police are deliberate distortions to derail growing public debate about white supremacy, the ongoing epidemic of violence against black people, and the need to end institutionalized racism in the policing and criminal justice systems.”
BLM activists have published a list of ten proposed policy solutions through their Campaign Zero site:
- End Broken Windows Policing
- Community Oversight
- Limit Use of Force
- Independently Investigate & Prosecute
- Community Representation
- Body Cams
- End For-Profit Policing
- Fair Police Union Contracts
Somebody should tell Fox News that “execution of police officers” is not on this list. In fact, body cams will benefit the police officers who wear them as well as citizens.
Interestingly, many of these same policies were also recommended by former New York City police detective Frank Serpico (yes, the same man portrayed by Al Pacino in the 1973 film) in a 2014 op-ed he wrote for Politico.
I am the proud son of a former police officer and will continue to be a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
We are finally having a national discussion on a topic that most people outside of the black community were seemingly unaware was even an issue. Let’s not end it before we have a solution.