For months, I've watched the whole Black Lives Matter movement grow and expand. The whole thing seemed to originate around the same time as the Ferguson protests, and has always sorta rubbed me the wrong way with its one-message mission of preventing police from killing innocent people. While the marches themselves have been impressive for their sheer size and frequency, there still doesn't seem to be a coherent message or a well stated agenda to all of this. What's the endgame? Is there one? Beyond millenial catchphrases like "microaggressions" and "transformative justice", it's hard to say. When confronted, self-proclaimed "leaders" of the movement can't even clearly articulate what they actually want.
"But hey, we've got new cameras following us, so let's do something just for the sake of attention, why don't we?"
This has lead to the movement hijacking presidential campaign speeches with no purpose other than hijacking them, and demanding time of other candidates, then doing jack sh*t when given the requested time other than posing a few awkward questions and subsequently leaking unauthorized video of said meeting online.
In between, we've seen countless protests in the wake of police-involved shootings even when said shootings were somewhat justified. Other times, we've seen protesters demand action in the wake of other incidents, when the full scope of said incidents wasn't even known yet. In short, any time where's an incident where the victim is black and the perpetrator is non-black, BLM swarms like a hive of misinformed bees, quickly jumping to the defense of the victim, details be damned. And other times, BLM simply shows up and raises a ruckus when some action involving cops is merely being proposed, regardless of why.
This odd tendency was typified in the most obnoxious of manners yesterday, as BLM activists showed up at press conference being held by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. For those unaware, DC homicides are in the midst of a startling uptick, especially in mostly black Ward 8 where the murder rate is up 95% since last year. Earlier this week, a bunch of ignorant MFers literally jacked a Metro bus, which lead to Metro temporarily suspending bus routes out of fear of more violence against drivers (someone also shot at a bus recently). With routes disrupted, people are having to walk as much as 30 minutes to catch an alternate bus, through these very same crime ridden areas. So yeah, that's not good thing, if you're merely a law abiding citizen who wants to get to work, like my in-laws, who live adjacent to this section of the city.
Common sense would dictate that shifting a few cops over to the effected area would be a good idea, and that's what Mayor Bowser was holding a press conference to announce (among other immediate common sense actions to get crime under control). But to the BLM "activists", this was merely another example of "police oppression", and they essentially showed their asses, disrupting a very important press conference for no good reason.
Chanting “police are not the answer,” dozens of protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement on Thursday prevented the mayor of Washington, D.C. from completing her announcement of a new police program plan to curb a sharply rising murder rate in the nation’s capital, local news reports said.With all due respect to BLM, building more community centers has jack sh*t to do with people shooting at city buses. But once again, their one argument fits all approach to activism undermines immediate, concrete plans that the mayor is taking to curb a very serious issue that's literally killing people. Sometimes, cops can actually be effective, ya' know. This would be one such time.
The chants disrupted Mayor Muriel Bowser’s speech and the first-term Democratic mayor, who is black, left the stage as the crowd both jeered and cheered, according to The Washington Post. Bowser, who was elected in 2013, spoke to reporters after she left the stage.
The new program would put hundreds more officers on the streets and ease restrictions on searching homes of some offenders, along with other changes. Instead of an increase in police powers, activists say they want to combat violent crime with an approach that involves members of the communities afflicted by the killings.
She was trying to announce her plan in Ward 8, a largely African-American area in the city’s southeast quadrant. Neighboring Ward 7 has experienced a 95 percent increase in murders this year. Citywide, there have been 103 killings so far in 2015, compared to 72 at this point last year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.
Bowser’s plan includes adding about 200 more police officers to the streets, the Post reported, and easing restrictions on searches of the homes of violent offenders. Some officers will be shifted from administrative duties to the streets.
The new measures let police detain for 72 hours violent offenders who violate restraining orders. Another part of the plan allows police to search for guns in the homes of violent offenders on parole, as the mayor’s office and the Metropolitan Police Department say that parolees are mostly responsible for the rise in murders.
Eugene Puryear, an activist and Green Party politician who represents the BLM-affiliated group Stop Police Terror D.C., said the mayor’s approach was deeply flawed and would result in more police oppression in African-American communities.
“More cops with more weapons and tougher laws and expanding police powers — that got us the era of mass incarceration, but it didn’t stop crime,” Puryear told Al Jazeera. “Instead of a police surge, there needs to be a community surge.”
He said that successful ways of reducing police violence require the participation of community members who have returned from jail, or who have “walked in the shoes” of young people at risk of committing or falling victim to violent crime. Bowser’s bill would put such people under stricter scrutiny by law enforcement.
Bowser’s plan does include the opening of a new community center to help residents get access to social services. Puryear, however, said this represents a mere nod to community involvement, and doesn’t make it a centerpiece of the program.
I don't have an issue with BLM in theory. Social justice has always been an impetus of civil rights protesting, and on that note, BLM is serving a much needed purpose. Police and other government entities do indeed prey on those in minority communities, often with devastating ramifications. Those things need to be pointed out, and BLM has been consistent, loud, and diligent in doing so. I do believe that these actions will lead to smarter policing, better public policy, and if nothing else, awareness and empathy from the rest of the American public that's willing to see things with open eyes. On that note, I applaud them heartily.
That said, if they want to be taken seriously (which should not be confused with "getting on the news consistently") they're gonna need to expand their scope a bit. I'd love to see BLM put the same amount of energy, effort, and attention into things that are more proactive in nature like mentoring, tutoring, coaching, cleaning up communities, giving financial awareness seminars, classes on parenting, etc. You know, things that actually improve the communities they say they want to protect from the inside out. Reality is, cops could stop shooting unarmed citizens tomorrow, and those communities would still be pockmarked with the very same dysfunction that BLM's trying to eradicate from the outside-in. Why not harness that energy and put it towards efforts that can simultaneously fix both sides of the problem?
Like it or not, black on black crime is a real thing, and it does need to be addressed. There are scores of organizations that work, often with little funding and worse, few volunteers, to address all of the issues I just spoke of. From teen pregnancy, to adult literacy, to financial awareness, to the achievement gap, to urban crime, to bad role models, to absentee fathers. Addressing the cops only is treating one of the symptoms, not the actual illness itself. I'd love to see those protesters mobilize an sign up in large numbers to help the organizations that do such things.
Imagine all of these BLM protesters volunteering to provide consistent, ongoing Sylan Learning Center style math and early reading tutoring at an inner city school. Or BLM protesters committing to be a Big Brother/Big Sister and mentor at-risk tweens. Or putting their collective education and savvy together to teach courses at a local community center on how to balance a budget, invest in the stock market, or plan for retirement. If all of that stuff sounds pie-in-the-sky, it shouldn't. I, as a 20 something single participated in all of those activities as a volunteer at some point. It's not impossible, because such programs already exist, but simply need more hands on deck to be really effective. Throw a few dozen protesters into each of these programs for a year, and you're gonna begin to see substantial inside-out changes in these communities.
Of course, the TV cameras probably wouldn't come along for the ride, and there'd be actual time and effort and sacrifice and delayed gratification involved, sooo...
Movements die when there's no clearly articulated goal or agenda. We saw this with Occupy Wall Street, whose net net was just a bunch of trampled urban parks and more attention for Elizabeth Warren, but little else. Ditto for the Tea Party, which managed to slow down President Obama's agenda, but has done little else beyond get a bunch of phony politicians who have since fallen in lockstep with the GOP establishment. Both of those movements were better funded and both were taken more seriously by the media and politicians. And yet, both have essentially fizzled, with not much to show for the grunt work of the regular people who spend days yelling and holding signs.
I don't want to see BLM suffer the same fate. At some point, very soon, the media's fascination with police shooting unarmed minorities is going to subside, if it hasn't already (I suspect it is). The camera will stop showing up, and when camera stop showing up, so do people. And then what? The movement will die, cops will probably have a few more pieces of equipment, and the communities they police will still be rotting from the inside.
Maybe I'm wrong. Tell me how wrong I am below.
Question: Does BLM have staying power? Should the movement be more proactive and building communities, as opposed to getting police to stop shooting unarmed people in these communities?