This Is How 200 Cops Feel About The "Black Lives Matter" Movement
A few weeks ago, a friend who is a police officer asked me why it was offensive to say “All Lives Matter.” After feeling disappointed initially, I quickly realized this was a moment to educate. When people say “Black Lives Matter,” we mean “Black Lives Matter, too.” It’s not that other people don’t matter; it’s just that we want our lives to matter as much. We want to stop being stereotyped. We want to be treated equally. We want to be able to wear a hoodie and not have to worry about being shot.
The saying “All Lives Matter” undermines the systematic racism and struggle people of color face every single day. People of color are more likely to have their cars searched than white drivers. People with “black”-sounding names are less likely to get called back for a job interview. Black Americans are even given harsher sentences for committing the same crime as a white person. So when you say “All Lives Matter,” you deny the validity of inequality.
After explaining this, my friend better understood the meaning behind “Black Lives Matter.” But unfortunately, the same can’t be said for other officers.
Aizman Law Firm surveyed 200 police officers about their knowledge of and attitude toward the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the picture painted truly speaks a thousand words.
In fact, 87 percent of police officers feel negatively toward the Black Lives Matter Movement, and 30 percent would like to see protesters back off because police brutality and racism isn’t a real problem.
Most alarming: 1 percent of police officers said they would like Black Lives Matter Movement members to die.
The survey further asked police officers how safe they felt while on the job and if they felt safer with a black or white individual. Nearly 40 percent said they felt equally safe with any individual regardless of race, while almost 11 percent said they felt safer with a white individual. Fewer than 1 percent felt safer with a black individual.
It’s wrong to believe that every police officer is racist and uses excessive force, but it’s even more wrong not to highlight the tension that exists between law enforcement and minorities.
The fact that 87 percent of police officers feel negatively toward the Black Lives Matter Movement shows they may not truly understand black communities.
However, there is a silver lining. Eleven percent of police officers would like to see their peers receive more training on racial issues and de-escalating situations peacefully. Further, 8 percent would like to see their department do more to connect with the black community and Black Lives Matter Movement, and 49 percent think body cameras should be a part of the required uniform. All things that could help forge a better relationship between the police and the communities they are sworn in to serve and protect.
The Black Lives Matter Movement isn’t about rioting, looting, or committing crimes in the hope of focusing attention on the plight of people of color. It’s about coming together and changing the perception that all black people are seen as aggressive, ignorant, and dangerous.
These findings show that though some officers understand the importance of successfully interacting with people different from them, many are failing to recognize the tension between citizens of color and the people who should be protecting them.
Our society could not function without police officers, and thinking of a place with no one to protect and serve is scary. But unless there are some critical changes in the way officers perceive and treat us, we’ll never get to a place where we feel safe in our own community.