The events that transpired at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 horrified the nation, yet felt remarkably unsurprising. Photos of the event show a sea of red caps and Trump propaganda, along with a handful of Blue Lives Matter flags. The most ironic photo shows a man holding a Blue Lives Matter flag duct taped to a wooden pole in one hand and shoving a Capitol police officer with the other. A crowd of rioters carrying thin blue line flags was responsible for the death of one Capitol police officer and another 140 injured. The Jan. 6 insurrection reaffirms that perhaps Blue Lives Matter does not necessarily stand for police officers as much as it stands against the Black community.
The Blue Lives Matter movement has existed for much of the 2010s but became more prevalent in the last year. Although, according to their website, the movement claims to protect police officers’ lives and their families during “their time of need,” it also acts as a defensive response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Supporters of Blue Lives Matter generally claim that they are fighting for police officers’ protection, specifically against violence targeted at them. Supposing that Blue Lives Matter is the rival opponent of BLM, it might seem understandable that both movements are merely fighting against violence. However, Blue Lives Matter fights to protect a chosen occupation, not a racial group. The BLM movement has been working diligently to highlight “the importance of the lives of Black Americans and fight for racial justice and equality” (Landmark, 2020). Meanwhile, Blue Lives Matter has been solely fighting back.
BLM was organized in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in 2013. The phrase “Black lives matter” was coined by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi to shed light on the systemic and intentional targeting of Black individuals by law enforcement and in their everyday lives. Like BLM, Blue Lives Matter was officially formed after Ismaaiyl Abdullah Brinsley killed two police officers in Brooklyn. Earlier in the day, Brinsley had posted on his Instagram about how he would kill two police officers to avenge the recent murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Immediately after the news broke, there was an uproar about protecting the lives of police officers.
The phrase “blue lives matter” gained momentum after the event but was met with controversy considering the high rates of police brutality against minority groups, specifically black men and boys.
The Capitol’s attack was a horrendous event that resulted in fatalities that could have easily been avoided. However, it further highlighted the hypocrisy of blue lives matter and Trump supporters who had no regard for those law enforcement officers’ lives. Blue Lives Matter will never be taken seriously now that it is apparent that their movement was created to stifle Black voices and the BLM movement.