The ‘Police aren’t racist they shoot non-black people for no reason as well’ response

It is hard to know where to begin with the thinking behind this argument. Arguably, as more and more empirical research about police brutality, police behaviour and police shootings comes to light, there is some doubt as to whether there is a statistically larger proportion of black people being shot and killed rather than white people, while there are also repeated claims ostensibly defeating such research, arguing that in fact, a bias can nevertheless be observed. Among others, this study, by Ronald Fryer, finds no evidence of racial difference in police killings. On the one hand, any evidence that assails, or seems to doubt the focus of the movement is treated with extreme hostility, the researchers themselves denounced as racist – a problematic trend, as it will only serve to assist accusations of silencing.

But the issue is less about the statistically significant variation for the hordes of ‘All Lives Matter’ activists, who congregate almost as soon as BLM gains some momentum, responding with anecdotes of white people killed, apparently not leading to protests.

“Police kill other groups too”.

Is this supposed to be a good thing? That American police appear to be having similar hair trigger responses to other groups as well? How does this assist their argument, other than to prove that rather than confront police brutality, they’d tear down a movement trying to combat it because …. their side gets hurt too?

This argument, and this crowd, also conveniently forget that BLM, to the extent such incidents come to light, have in fact included white victims in their chants, memorials and protests. The most recent, and prominent example is of Daniel Shaver, a man shot while on the floor, begging for his life. In contrast to the crowds pretending that ‘All Lives Matter’ is a perfectly innocent reaction rather than reactionary resentment, Daniel Shaver’s graphic, horrific death, the fact that the officer was acquitted, were all highlighted primarily by Black Lives Matter protestors and organizers.

Indeed, it would seem that far more than the people claiming all lives matter, it is Black Lives Matter protestors who care more about white lives lost – a consideration not extended to them by the huge swell of men claiming ‘I’m not racist but lol if black lives matters, what about X’.

If there is genuine concern about police generally having disproportionate, unjustified uses of force, would it not benefit anyone vaguely interested in innocent people not being shot, to join this movement? Instead, their ire is focused on the movement against police brutality, which is somehow acceptable if its done to all groups?

At the heart of this argument lies another fundamental psychosis and an acceptance of a deep malaise – that getting shot while being arrested / pulled over / as a result of other commonplace interactions with the police is somehow normal. It is not. Short of living in a war-zone, public interactions with police even in developing countries do not devolve into shootouts because the person is drunk or failed to quickly put up their hand. The fact that so many think ‘the police shoot lots of other people’ too as a response speaks to a population that accepts this as somehow inevitable, instead of the obvious inference about a police force trained, and allowed, to use force at the drop of a hat. This shouldn’t be considered as a smart retort – and it can’t be – except to those who for their own reasons, merely seek to delegitimise the movement.

About L Beatrice 37 Articles
Lawyer, activist against sexual violence and exploitation. You can follow her on twitter @lblwcri.

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