Blue Lives Matter is officially dead. People may continue to chant and post the slogan, but it is dead. Senate Republicans killed it last week when they voted to acquit Donald Trump of inciting an insurrection that left one officer dead and 138 injured. (Two officers who responded to the insurrection later died by suicide.)
As The New York Times reported:
“One officer lost the tip of his right index finger. Others were smashed in the head with baseball bats, flagpoles and pipes. Another lost consciousness after rioters used a metal barrier to push her into stairs as they tried to reach the Capitol steps during the assault on Jan. 6.”
The Times continued that the injuries to officers “ranged from bruises and lacerations to more serious damage such as concussions, rib fractures, burns and even a mild heart attack.”
After conservatives condemned football player Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the American national anthem at NFL games, a violent mob assembled and encouraged by Trump assaulted the American Capitol.
Trump himself said the following about Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter protests:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’ You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
And then, a member of the mob in January acting at Trump’s behest used a flagpole flying that very same American flag to attack an acting D.C. police officer. As NBC Washington reported:
“A man with a backpack and long, brown hair is shown repeatedly slamming a flagpole with an American flag toward the ground. The victim is off-camera but a police shield can be seen. The crowd chants ‘USA,’ with some wearing red Make America Great Again hats.”
In September, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina introduced the Protect and Serve Act, which would make it “a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. Offenders are subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years.”
As Tillis posted on his website: “We cannot sit idly by and allow for the streets to be filled with dangerous, violent criminals who face no consequences.” And yet, Tillis voted to acquit the man responsible for filling D.C.’s streets with dangerous, violent criminals who attacked police officers, even though Tillis conceded:
“It is important to note that a not-guilty verdict is not the same as being declared innocent. President Trump is most certainly not the victim here; his words and actions were reckless and he shares responsibility for the disgrace that occurred on January 6.”
Tillis’ bill was co-sponsored by 15 other Republican senators. All of the ones who remained in the Senate after the election voted to acquit Trump except one: Richard Burr, the other senator from North Carolina.
And, among all the police officers who behaved honorably during the riot, there were those who didn’t. In addition to the two officers who posed for pictures with the rioters (those officers have since been arrested), an investigation by The Associated Press found that “at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behavior in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot.”
In the Senate’s acquittal — or more accurately, abetting — of Donald Trump, they stripped away the facade of the opposition to Black Lives Matter and the elevation of Blue Lives Matter.
It was never about preventing the desecration of American symbols. Members of the insurrection mob smeared feces throughout the Capitol after they broke into it.
This was never really about the protection of officers, generally speaking, but about allowing officers to treat with more impunity the people who protested the maltreatment of Black people.
Blue Lives Matter was in large part an attempt to silence the people asserting that Black lives mattered, as if Black people and police officers were equal and opposite sides of a scale, which is such a vicious and aberrant comparison.
Black Lives Matter was saying that Black people deserve as much as any others to live lives free of fear and free of state violence, not only from the police but from the entire criminal justice system.
Blue Lives Matter seemed to counter that violence against Black bodies was simply collateral damage in an effort to keep society safe and that the officers should not be constrained in their attempts to do so.
Republicans sided with the officers until Trump goons violently attacked officers. Then the entire argument fell apart.
Charles Blow writes a column for the New York Times.
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