While conservatives are blaming Black Lives Matter (i.e.Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Joe Walsh) for the recent killings of five police officers in Dallas (despite the city’s police chief stating that Micah X. Johnson acted alone), the movement itself has been speaking out and setting the record straight.
In a statement issued on Friday, BLM wrote:
“This is a tragedy–both for who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy…Black activists have raised the call for an end of violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was a result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is irresponsible and dangerous.”
In addition, on Friday’s edition of “All In with Chris Hayes,” Alicia Garza co-founder of Black Lives Matter, also stressed that as Americans we can mourn the loss of the five police Dallas police officers and still demand for a more just police system at the same time. One does not negate the other.
“It’s important to acknowledge that anytime anyone loses their life before its time is a tragedy. Black Lives Matter has never ever ever called for the murder of police officers. What we have said over and over again is that it’s time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them,” she started off.
Garza also emphasized that the movement has never been anti-police, but against the bias violence that they disproportionately inflict on Black people.
“The issue that we are concerned with the hypercriminization of Black bodies in this country. And part of how that happens is through policing. There is an entire system that deems Black people as criminals and acts on that assumption. People who are tasked with carrying that out. We are not anti-police. We are anti-our people being murdered in the streets,” she told Hayes.
She added, “What happened to Alton Sterling, what happened to Philando and to so many Black people in our communities. It’s absolutely unacceptable and I think that is something that we can all agree on.”
She also fears that people will use the Dallas tragedy as an excuse to “curtail people’s civil liberties” and try to stop social movements.
“Unfortunately with the characterization of groups like Black Lives Matter as ‘domestic terrorists’ organizations, I am concerned that the level of rhetoric coming from people who are being consumed by a level of fear, could curtail of civil liberties. Our ability of freedom of speech and our ability quite frankly to reshape our democracy, which is a fundamental right of every person in this country.”
Garza’s believes that moving forward, as a nation, we all have to join in on productive conversations about how to make our nation more just for all.
“We don’t need to have more guns than people in this country. We don’t have to live in a country where we are more likely to be killed by a police officer than graduate from a university. We need to change and if we really want to move in a forward direction, then we will do everything we can in this moment to address the root causes of some of the problems that we’re facing.”
Yes, let those conversations continue.