I recently stumbled across a YouTube video that went viral on the internet from a Black activist Joe Evans, who is the former vice-chairman and executive director of the Jefferson County Republican Party, issuing a request to President Obama to denounce the “Black Lives Matter” movement because it incites rioting and more hatred. Instead, he believes the movement should be called the “All Lives Matter” movement. This would encompass all races and all genders of people, instead of singling out a particular race, which calls for more hate and more violence against those who are sworn to protect.
Being a conflict resolution practitioner, I firmly believe this makes the most sense. I have worn the uniform, and it is easy to play arm-chair quarter back unless you have been in their position. You have to make quick decisions, and these decisions have catastrophic consequences if you are wrong. Lets be honest, everyone makes mistakes, but these mistakes cost people their lives. Have there been mistakes that were 100% percent wrong, absolutely. However, destroying your own neighborhoods solves nothing.
Police are held accountable on multiple levels. There is the internal affairs division, training and standards, outside agency investigations, and the legal system. Whenever there is a shooting, an outside agency must get involved. The department will usually do its own investigation, but the highest law enforcement agency in the state will conduct one as well. This is to ensure there is an unbiased investigation. What I have found to be more compelling in these last few months is the fact that some of the shootings have actually been justified through the use of force continuum. The public needs to learn and understand how this works before judging if the officer had the right to act. Also, most people do not know all the facts or pieces of the puzzle that occurred before the shooting. There have been justifiable shootings where the suspect actually robbed a store using violence, then tried to fight the officer, take his weapon, and hurt the officer. However, some people believe this is still not a reason to shoot an unarmed suspect, and this could be further from the truth.
The black lives matter movement is racist. It incites racism to its core, and it pushes for the willful retaliation of police officers who really are doing their jobs. Many African-American leaders have denounced the movement because it is not in their best interest to support something that initiates more violence. There have been several officers murdered in the last few weeks. The officers did not have the opportunity to defend themselves, and they were killed by people who are for all intents and purposes, cowards and criminals. It proves nothing and solves nothing. If anything, it pushes for the police to use more force, and it further divides the communities we live in. This is not what Martin Luther King Jr would have stood for if he were alive. He was about bringing people of all races together as Americans, pursuing equality and justice in a manner that is not violent, because he knew violence leads to more violence. Hatred in the United States is nothing new. Let’s be honest, our culture, historical upbringing, life experiences, and beliefs shape our lives. To some, extremism is the only way to make change, but the extremism must be in the form of non-violent and legal means. If not, it will have consequences that will enrage more people, push for more violence on both sides of the issues, ultimately accomplishing nothing more than more destruction and possibly death.
What is the solution? The solution lies in helping one another understand the issues from all sides. Both sides have to find some sort of common ground, maybe even have some sort of concessions put into place, but each side must take the time to listen to the others perspective. Take the time to understand the training, the background, the culture, the environment, the conditions, and the weight faced by every man and woman who puts on the uniform. In contrast, law enforcement needs to understand the communities they work, and racial injustices some of the people in these communities have faced during their life time. These actions will help both sides understand why there is mistrust between the community and law enforcement. This is the only way to truly understand all the issues. We all have different opinions and that is ok. It is about working together to accomplish the goals that help one another and not just one side. Nothing can be accomplished over night, things take time, and it’s hard to change an entire culture. However, some good has occurred, not because of the black lives matter movement, but because of the importance of holding officers more accountable. The movement didn’t change this behavior, the actions or inactions of the officers involved did. Body cameras are more common, outside civilian boards for police departments are in place, and there is a push for more accountability by all levels of supervision. The main point is this, violence solves nothing. This is not war. This is civil unrest and civil disturbances of the peace based on a few incidents which do not reflect all of the law enforcement community.