Let’s see. A Black man murders five and injures seven white policemen and two non-police citizen during a peaceful gathering intended to protest the killing of Black boys and men by white police officers. A Black man murders three police officers – two white, one black and injures two others. A white man murders 49 LBGTQ people socializing at a night club. A white man murdered nine men and women during a prayer service in their church. Dallas Texas. Orlando Florida, Charleston, South Carolina, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sixty-six more people dead- taken out of the mix – 12 injured. And for what? Because the men who pulled the triggers lost their humanity and their humility.
The two Black men are no different than their White counterparts. They are murderers – plain and simple. They just wanted to kill White police officers just as the White man in Orlando just wanted to kill LBGTQ people and the White man in Charleston just wanted to kill Black people. As I was reminded, one of the police officers killed by the Baton Rouge murderer is Black. That is true. But, maybe in the mind of the murderer the second worse thing you can be is a Black police officer. Or maybe his death is what is meant by the saying, “when you dig one ditch, you better dig two.”
People’s feelings and opinions range from this is wrong to they got what they deserved. Be that as it may, these murders must not be given and does not deserve a speck of credit for increasing awareness of, causing an awakening about or bringing renewed energy to the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Black lives did not matter to them. Their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and other family members did not matter to them. They did not care that their families will live with the choice they made the same as one must live with the affects of a painful debilitating disease. They were incapable of considering, how, for generations, their actions will slowly but sturdily suck the nutrients from their family’s tree.
The little Sister of the Dallas murderer, no doubt unduly influenced by her older Brother’s beliefs, said the day before his rampage “These cops need to get a taste of the life we now fear.” Her words would have just been rhetoric had he not killed the very people she thought deserved to die. While I think she is too young to understand the full implications of her words, that does not matter now. Those words, as Faulkner explains in Lights in August, “will just be there inside (of her), lodged between memory and forgetting, musing quiet, steadfast, not fading and not particularly threatful, but of itself alone serene, of itself alone (and) triumphant because nothing is ever escaped.”
These men are not messengers. They are not an inspiration. They are not leaders. We reserve these identities for Black men and women who say, “I am standing in the gap of injustice until it is closed.” And then they stand without that senseless and self-destructive eye-for-an eye mentality. That is what Civil Right Activist Fannie Lou Hammer did after she lost her job and her home simply because she registered to vote. It is what Dr. Martin Luther King did after he’d “been to the mountain top.” It is what Nelson Mandela was doing when he was imprisoned for 27 years and it is what he continued to do after his release. It is what Harriet Tubman was doing when she made “nineteen trips” to the South to free over “three hundred slaves” and what she was doing when she said, “If I could have convinced more slaves that they were slaves, I could have freed thousands more.”
It is hard to paint a verbal picture of the raw emotions that can get stirred up when an action by the police reminds us that cities across this country have for years treated police brutality as if it is a figment of Black people’s imagination. The conglomerate of inequities in the criminal justice system has caused many of us to ask what will it take? But, most of us are shaken by how this question might be answered at the extreme. And so we, one way or another, let our hearts be guided by questions Dr. King asked in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, “will we be extremist for hate or will we be extremist for love? Will we be extremist for the preservation of injustice or will we be extremist for the cause of justice? The vast majority of us, take a deep breath, count to ten, hug each other, dry our tears and intentionally act out of love and justice. It is not easy but we do it anyway.
These men chose to be extremist for hate and to preserve injustice because it is what they believed in. So we have to remember that their acts of violence did not contribute anything to the Black Lives Matter Movement. And, should not take anything from it either. Those who have taken “The movement made them do it’ stance is no different than these men. Those who are blaming the movement are pulling a different kind of trigger hoping to turn others against the movement and therefore against an undeniable truth. All of us need to be in America’s face so American can face its historical shame. But, killing white police officers and blaming Black Lives Matters is not the way.
Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “It is not surprising that those accused of horrendous deeds and the communities they come from, for whom they believe they are committing these atrocities almost always find ways out of even admitting that they were indeed capable of such deeds. They adopt the denial mode, asserting that such-and-such has not happened, when the evidence is incontrovertible they take refuge in feigned ignorance.”
When it comes to justice for black men, women and children, this is what the criminal justice system is doing. This is what police departments are doing. It is what the Fraternal Order of Police is doing. It is what local politician are doing. It is what some police officers are doing – denying and then feigning ignorance.
In their own way, it is what these men would have us do – deny that they used a legitimate social movement as an excuse to satisfy their personal agenda and then either killed themselves or forced someone to kill them because they did not have the guts to stay here and face the people on whose behalf they claim to have acted. But the majority of us will not let them get away with that. Forgive? Yes. Excuse? No.
We will not excuse their actions because Black lives do matter. We want our children to know why Black lives matter. We want our children to know what we (Black people) do and do not do because black lives matter to us and what other people do and will not dare do when Black lives matter to them. And, equally as important, we want our children to understand, as our ancestors did, “Nothing is ever escaped.”