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LETTER: Law enforcement personnel don't need a hat

LETTER: Law enforcement personnel don't need a hat

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Law enforcement personnel don’t need a hat

Several days ago, I saw a man wearing a hat saying “Blue Lives Matter.” This slogan, a reaction to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, could mean that blue lives are not appreciated—and that needs to change.

Another potential meaning, more subtle, is that Black lives matter sufficiently, so no further action is required.

Lastly, and more overtly racist, it could mean that Black lives (compared to blue lives) do not and should not matter. Let’s explore these possible meanings.

Looking at some of the “high points” in U.S. history featuring blue and Black lives should provide some enlightenment, yes? Whose lives mattered in the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850? Blue or Black?

Whose lives mattered in the late 19th century when the crimes of arson, rape and murder were routinely visited upon newly freed slaves with full citizenship under the 13th and 14th Amendments and not prosecuted by law enforcement? And in the early 20th century with lynching and bombings?

And in the heyday of Jim Crow and the trial of Emmet Till’s murderers? Whose lives mattered on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or at the 16th Street Baptist Church?

And during stop-and-frisk? Whose lives mattered as Eric Garner, Michael Brown and George Floyd died and as the perpetrators were investigated? Blue or Black?

What do these historical details tell us about whose lives matter, in the past and the present?

Conclusion: Blue lives matter, and they always have. For more than 400 years, to our shame, Black lives have not mattered.

Law enforcement agencies and their hard-working employees serve and protect us, and I appreciate them—they matter. But they don’t need a movement or a slogan. Or a hat.

Racial inequities and injustice abound, AND that’s wrong. And that’s what really matters.

Mark Houghton


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