Black Lives Matter

It’s true.  They do matter.  Of course they matter.  They matter just as much as any other human life.

George Floyd should not have died.  He was killed by a Minneapolis police officer’s excessive use of force.  It’s awful.  The officer(s) should face prosecution for how they handled the whole situation and Mr. Floyd’s death.  There are other instances across the country where unarmed black men are killed by police.  It’s all very, very sad.

But we can’t stop letting the justice system do its work, even though we may not agree with it’s outcome sometimes.  We may even know for a fact that they got it wrong!  Still, these tragedies have to be taken one case at a time.  Not every cop is guilty.  Not every cop that has pulled a trigger is guilty of a crime.  Sometimes they are driven by fear, sometimes by training (good, bad or inadequate), and sometimes by prejudice.

A crime is a crime.  It’s obvious that what happened to George Floyd was a crime.  But I wouldn’t be so quick to judge another man’s heart.  I think it’s safe to say the officer in question didn’t mean to kill him.  That does NOT make what happened ok, but we should be careful to judge the man’s entire being on a terrible mistake that he made.

Black lives matter.  They do.  Black lives matter so much!  I could get religious on you but I’ll refrain.  All I’ll say is God values us all equally and that’s how I choose to see it, too.

Here’s my problem.  I’m gonna lose some of you before you get to the end of this but it needs to be said.

Life matters.  Every one.  So are we talking about statistics or are we talking about individual lives?  One life lost should be enough, shouldn’t it?  But so many people want statistics.  So I’ll give them to you.

In 2019, 1004 people died to a police officer in the United States.
370 (36.8%) of them were white (72.4% of pop).
235 (23.4%) of them were black (12.6% of pop).

Here are some other statistics that are disproportionate:

In 2017, the FBI reported that 53.1% of all murder/manslaughter arrests were black.  They reported that 54.3% of all robbery arrests were black.  They reported that 43.9% of all carrying/possession of weapon arrests were black.

So it’s safe to say that 12.6% of the population were involved in 53 and 55 percent of the violent arrests and 43.9% of the weapon related arrests.  Which means that though they were around 50% of the arrests in these volatile categories in 2017, they were only 23.4% of the deaths in 2019.

And just so we’re clear, police bleed too.  48 police officers were killed in the United States in 2019.  40 of them were white and 7 were black.  41 more police officers were killed by accidents in the line of duty in 2019.  39 of them were white and 2 were black.

But unlike the statistics, the whole story is not black and white.  At least it shouldn’t be.  A life is a life.  Black or white or anything else!

Every life matters and more whites died at the hands of police in 2019.  So it’s #BlackLivesMatter and it should be #BlackDisproportionateStatisticsMatter.  Honestly, I don’t believe either is the approach that will give us the desired outcome. It doesn’t have to be a hashtag or a political stand.  Respecting all life should be a part of our culture.

I also think the national news agencies should look at all unarmed deaths by police, not just the black ones.  They all matter!

I understand the anger.  I get angry about all unarmed police related deaths.  But what does rioting in your neighborhood do to fix that?  Doesn’t rioting and committing crimes (some of which are violent) put you at a higher risk to become a statistic?  What did that specific store owner or police officer do to deserve that?  Isn’t rioting literally starting to justify the police officer’s overzealous behavior?

It’s time we stand together.  Not under the banner of #blacklivesmatter, but as a human race.  It’s time we start teaching our kids that the pigment of brown in our skin doesn’t change the value or character of the person living inside it.  It’s time we start judging people based on their actions.  It’s time we start seeing people for who they are, not the color of their skin.  It’s time we stop judging entire groups of people because of something one person did.

Rest in peace, George Floyd. 

Maybe some day people will realize that the problem won’t ever be fixed until we all unite behind every life.

 

Sources:

2017 Crime – https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2017/crime-in-the-u.s.-2017/tables/table-43
2019 Deaths by Police – https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/police-shootings-2019/
2019 Police Deaths – https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2019-statistics-on-law-enforcement-officers-killed-in-the-line-of-duty
2010 Census – https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/cph-2-1.pdf

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