Early yesterday morning something truly terrible happened.
Two police officers in Iowa were shot and killed. Police described each successive shooting as an ambush that each officer never saw coming. Like most officers, these men had adoring families and a network of friends and colleagues who are absolutely devastated by this loss. I hate what was done to these men. I have never once wished death on a single officer. When I quote Dr. King’s words that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” that includes this horrific injustice as well. Our nation is worse off because of this.
Yet, after waking up at 3:30 AM yesterday morning to catch a flight out of Burlington, Vermont to make my way first to New York, then here to Dallas, I learned of these horrific murders not by catching a glimpse of the story on a television in a terminal of JFK airport or by looking at the news on my phone – instead, I opened up Twitter and saw multiple users asking me if I “felt remorse” for what I had caused or if I was going to address the costs of the “war on police” that I was waging as a leader in the Black Lives Matter Movement. I didn’t even know that the shooting had taken place, and I certainly didn’t know who was responsible, and I was already being blamed for it. I saw other tweets blaming President Obama and even others blaming Hillary Clinton.
Yet, within 30 minutes we learned that the suspected shooter was a bigoted white man named Scott Michael Greene. Just a few weeks ago, the 46 year old Greene was kicked out of a local high school football game for waving a Confederate flag right in the face of black fans. The man was no Black Lives Matter activist – quite the opposite – he appears, if anything, to fit the very profile of a modern day white supremacist and we just learned that he was a public supporter of Donald Trump. After seeing a video of how he was harassing black fans at that game with the Confederate flag, it didn’t surprise me at all to learn that he’s a Trump supporter. He has empowered bigots all over this country.
With absolutely no evidence, with nothing more than dangerous stereotypes of black criminality to lean on, a scary black boogeyman was imagined, and a phony conspiracy was hatched, with me, the Black Lives Matter Movement, President Obama, and Hillary Clinton as the dubious masterminds. It’s not just preposterous, it’s dangerous and ignores the realities of who is actually shooting and killing police in this country. White men, most often older, with extensive criminal records, represent the majority people who’ve shot and killed police not only this year, but since 1999.
It’d be easy for this to go completely over the head of conservative white folk, though, because nothing rivals the media coverage that Fox News gives a case where a black man actually does shoot and kill a police officer. It is then, and almost only then, that a “war on police” is mentioned. What I saw yesterday in real time was sick. When conservatives assumed the shooter was black, they were outraged, and wanted the whole world to know about it, but the outrage all but disappeared the moment they realized the shooter looked like them.
I wanna end this morning with a thought on why we must stop Donald Trump. Many of you have voted early. If you can vote early and you haven’t, go for it. Get it out of the way. If you’re waiting until Tuesday, whatever you do, don’t skip out, don’t stay home. All of us MUST VOTE. Trump could win. He’s now up in several polls and listen, he not only empowers the very worst elements in our country, the KKK just did a full spread on their endorsement of him in their own newspaper this week, but Trump openly promotes and embraces the very stereotypes that caused thousands of white folk to start blaming us for this shooting when it’s mainly white folk that are killing cops in America. Facts don’t matter to Trump and they don’t matter to his supporters.
Hillary’s not my dream candidate, but I’m willing to do the same thing Bernie Sanders has done for months and temporarily put aside my differences in an effort to stop Donald Trump. The man, his team, his ideas, and his policies are truly dangerous and he’s already given us a glimpse of what life with him as a leader would look like. If you think it’s bad now, it’d be 10 times worse with him as President.