Editor Note: This college student initially wrote to Law Enforcement Today because she finds herself constantly on the attack for being pro-law enforcement. This is the latest in a series of articles by “Hattie”. Scroll down to read more.
“I know that a lot of people have beef with the police that is not so much as individually but structurally motivated.”
That’s a text I received three weeks ago from an old friend who was checking in on how my boyfriend and I are doing – to which I went on a rant about the mounting difficulty of being pro-police at my university.
If I expected her to be understanding of my plight, because she has always supported my relationship, I was sadly mistaken.
I’ve heard this argument way too many times. Anti-law enforcement people try to pacify me with that statement, claiming that the Black Lives Matter movement is structurally focused, not individually, and therefore I shouldn’t take it personally.
So if my boyfriend is doing traffic enforcement and a disgruntled passerby shoots him in his cruiser, I shouldn’t take that personally, because it was just a structural objection?
Killing a police officer for their occupation, when they have done nothing to offend you, isn’t individually targeting them?
Maybe the mindset of anti-law enforcement advocates was, or even is, attempting to focus on issues with “the system” and its structural deficits. But what we see now, instead, are structurally-motivated individual crimes.
When I stated that it’s fine to have beef with the policing system as a structure, but it’s not fine to start individually targeting them through violence, my friend never responded.
This is not the first friendship I’ve lost over my pro-police stance, and it probably won’t be the last.
Nonetheless, I stand by what I said, and continue to call BS on the “it’s not individual, it’s structural” argument. Proponents may be calling for structural change, but the structural change they are calling for still involves targeting individuals.
There is a difference between productive, constructive protesting and counterproductive, destructive protesting. The BLM movement may have attempted to achieve the former, but only continues to enforce the latter.
There is no such thing anymore as a BLM campaign that’s not somewhat individual. It’s ludicrous to imply (whether blatantly or tacitly) that the murder of a fallen officer is somehow mere symbolism, that they were a sacrificial lamb in the crusade against structural flaws in our government.
In another conversation with a previous professor/mentor who no longer talks to me for the same reason, I stated:
I think that people who feel oppressed by the government sometimes see law enforcement as their direct oppressors even though it’s more so the system than the actual workers themselves.
I readily acknowledge that people do experience oppression in different forms. But taking this out on cops is unwarranted.
Frustrations with the system are targeted at police, whom some people view as individual perpetrators of injustice and prejudice. It’s easier to literally shoot the messenger than to thoughtfully and non-violently construct a campaign for change at a broader level—a campaign where emotions take a backseat and supplement rather than dominate or replace the argument.
I understand the passion behind Black Lives Matter, so much so that I still do not promote Blue Lives Matter (just Thin Blue Line) because I am sympathetic and respect that BLM was their movement, not ours. I see and even support the fundamental rationales driving these protests.
At the same time, I think that people get swept up in the mob mentality and fail to understand how the viewpoint and emotional reactions being propagated against police directly affect individuals such as myself, too.
If it was so structural, if it only operated on a macro scale, I would not be experiencing rejection by friends and family on the basis of my pro-police stance. Not to mention the loved ones who fallen officers have left devastated by an untimely, unjustified death motivated by hatred and bigotry—ironically, in the name of protesting law enforcement’s supposed hatred and bigotry.
I’m not saying that the same isn’t true of all lives that have been surrendered in this context: My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones in law enforcement encounters on both ends, regardless of blame or justification.
Nobody would ever prefer death over life and anyone who pulls the trigger will be haunted by it for the rest of their life. I simply do not think it’s fair for people to continue to use “it’s structurally motivated” as an excuse for their anti-law enforcement behaviors.
Truthfully, when it comes to these issues I feel visceral pain and sadness more than hatred or fury. My message to the cop haters out there would be to take a look at your original mission. Go back, review the facts, and do your research. Read into the criminal justice system’s logic. Pick out the flaws in that logic and propose amendments, but understand the reasoning and justification behind the current system.
Use your fire to readjust your agenda so that it’s actually structurally-focused and not targeting individuals. Don’t react instantly with anger and hostility if you dislike something about our government or another person’s opinions. Change happens slowly, and it will forever be stalled if you go about it in the way you are.
Nobody will ever convince me that the anti-law enforcement narrative is not individually targeted. The first time that a cop got killed in the name of Black Lives Matter, it became individual. Surely there is a way to protest the system without killing innocent workers.
And even if you make the argument that if police are killing innocent civilians (which I disagree with) and that turnaround is fair play, how are we supposed to take you seriously then? You lose all credibility when you start playing revenge games and fighting fire with fire instead of being calm, articulate, and focused on problem-solving.
If you believe that we pro-police fiends are what is so wrong with society, then take the high road. Be the better person. I know that I attempt to do the same: I would never end a five-year friendship purely because my friend supports Black Lives Matter, but apparently people will willingly close me off because I support the Thin Blue Line.
Structural or individual, the anti-law enforcement sentiment continues to intensify in this country. But if everyone—on both sides, because there are intolerant people everywhere and we could all use a little more compassion—would at least recognize their own blindness and selective empathy, perhaps that could be a start.
Walk Away: Why This Liberal Student Went From Black Lives Matter To Blue
Editor Note: Because this student is still several months away from graduation, she’s requested that we publish her submissions anonymously. It’s a sad day when free speech means nothing on college campuses unless it’s anti-police… and when a student is worried that supporting cops will hurt her GPA. We’ve honored her request and will be publishing her stories under the name “Hattie S.” for now.
Yesterday, I found my old Black Lives Matter pin and I threw it in the trash.
My life changed when I met my boyfriend a year and a half ago.
I had a limited understanding of law enforcement and bought into all of the emotionally-charged claims of “police brutality”, though I never directly disrespected or condemned all police officers.
I promoted the BLM cause because I thought it was making a positive statement about general issues of racism in the country. Today, as the BLM movement continues to threaten the livelihood of LEOs and my loved one, suffice to say that I’ve done a complete 180.
From the start of our relationship, my boyfriend gently and non-judgmentally brought my attention to the bias and false information permeating the media which I had once assumed was factual.
The devout liberal in me, somewhat determined to find racist motives behind every use of force, disagreed with some of his points initially. But now, having stayed on 8-hour phone calls during every shift and been as immersed in the profession as I can be without wearing a badge, I would say that I have more experience observing law enforcement than the average hostile college student. And everything I once believed could not be farther from the truth.
When I first met my boyfriend, I thought sure, he seemed good at his job, reasonable and personable, not at all racist or bigoted… maybe he was the exception. But as I listened to the radio and how his department handled potentially problematic calls, heard first-hand stories, and started more critically reading articles and questioning radical liberal indoctrination at school, I realized something.
It isn’t the BLM proponents who are necessarily in the right. They just shout the loudest and appeal to one of the most powerful forces in politics: anger.
There are many reasons I’m so passionate about law enforcement now.
First and foremost is my boyfriend. I love him more than anything, so naturally I’m fiercely defensive of him and his profession. The pain from not being able to gush about him to most people, of having to keep my mouth shut whenever mention of police comes up, of hiding our relationship from my anti-police parents, drives me even further from my old BLM ideology.
I also stopped supporting BLM when I quit letting my emotions dictate everything and began to look at the facts.
I was always a fairly cerebral person, but I didn’t care enough about law enforcement matters before meeting my boyfriend to put more thought than feelings into my opinion. However, now that I read the reports, look at the autopsies, watch the videos, reflect on different incidents, and question articles that omit any potentially condemning details of a case, that has changed.
Most importantly, perhaps, in my “conversion” from BLM proponent to impassioned law enforcement supporter is the pivotal fact that even if I did agree with the basics of BLM philosophy, these people are going about it all wrong.
This is what bothers me, what really gets me going, because I’m a reasonable person. It’s very difficult to be common sense on an issue in today’s political climate, but I do think my points are fairly rational—to the point where a lot of times anti-police people will back down and claim that they “don’t want to argue” when we get into discourse (translation: you’re making too many good points and I don’t want to listen to facts).
I wrote in a previous article that maybe, if anti-law enforcement fanatics didn’t promote genocide of police officers, burn Thin Blue Line flags, despise an entire profession, and threaten hundreds of thousands of hard-working citizens who only want to make the world a little better, we could find a common ground.
Their hostility divides us and their threats only create more tension, anger, and fear—all of which continue to cloud our ability to make rational decisions. We could work together, educate one another, open our minds, but the exact opposite is true.
BLM supporters have further cemented a forced dichotomy of opinions (pro- or anti-police, with no in-between or compromise), and naturally, I choose the side that isn’t proposing we abolish an entire profession.
The fact that I once supported BLM and no longer do, does not mean that I don’t care about the lives of minorities. Every death is tragic, every life lost is grieved, every effort should be made to prevent and avoid use of deadly force.
Switching sides, for me, only means that I don’t support using anger and hostility and over-generalizing and needless threats to make a point. It means that I choose facts over blind emotion, and I don’t want to band together with anyone who promotes murder of any group.
(And guess what? None of us law enforcement supporters have ever proposed the abolition of all minorities or written “KILL MINORITIES” on a piece of artwork or gone to rallies protesting the civilians who assaulted or killed LEOs themselves.)
At the very least, I am proof that rational people on this earth do exist. Don’t assume that every left wing individual is closed off to reason, even if they have a BLM laptop decal.
My co-worker once said that when I first talked about my liberal views, she thought she would have to walk on eggshells around me and I’d be offended by everything. Instead, we had mature conversations focused on logic and problem-solving rather than anger and fear. Every pro-police person has a voice. Use it to speak out, and maybe even help others see a side they hadn’t considered.
There are some days where I want to go back to my hometown and tear down the massive BLM banner hanging on the front of my church. Days when the anti-police sentiment is too much and I can’t handle my peers’ spiteful comments about my boyfriend.
But that would be fighting fire with fire, and we law enforcement supporters are better than that.