Remember this summer when a movie called Let’s Be Cops hit theaters just after the death of Michael Brown and ensuing Ferguson protests, and our reaction was something like, “Um, actually? Let’s not.” This is like that, but on a larger, more tone-deaf/straight up trolling you scale. A Facebook group called “Thank You NYPD” is planning a pro-cop rally on Friday, December 19, in order to counteract the protestors in the wake of the grand jury verdict in the death of Eric Garner. Among the other goodies on the page: A picture with cops and the hashtag #BlueLivesMatter, a twist on the rallying cry “Black Lives Matter.”
But here is the thing with this pro-cop rally: It’s not actually just in support of the cops. Because the rallies in the wake of the grand jury verdict are not just about cops, either. No New York City resident, if they’re thinking about it honestly, would advocate a city without any police system. What they’re protesting is cops not being held accountable for their actions, and the racial bias in a system that would allow a white killer to go free because the victim was black. The protests are (mostly, anyway) not blindly anti-cop, they’re against what police are being used as tools to support. They’re against the idea that black lives are less important than white lives, and the policies, both in the police and in the justice system, that undergird that idea. They’re against police as agents and enforcers of racism.
So it’s hard to read a “pro-NYPD” rally in this context as anything less than a “rally in support of killing unarmed black people,” or at the very least, a response that’s something like #NotAllPolice. Adding #BlueLivesMatter to the conversation is similarly tonedeaf. To wit:
— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) November 27, 2014
It misses the whole point of the protests. Policing is hard work, and it’s necessary. But it doesn’t mean that police should get a special dispensation to not be accountable for their actions.