The GOP convention was the most pro-cop in ages. Controversially, the Democrats are going in the other direction. Will it work? Yes—as long as people go vote.
Tuesday night will bring a pivotal moment of the presidential race when the mothers of black men and women who have been killed by gun violence or in police custody will take center stage at the Democratic National Convention. This night may not only further humanize an essential civil rights struggle, but it may also turn a distinctly anti-political movement led by Black Lives Matter into a force that engages more directly with electoral politics.
Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother; Maria Hamilton, Dontré Hamilton’s mother; Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, Michael Brown’s mother; Cleopatra Pendlton-Cowley, Hadiya Pendleton’s mother; and Geneva Reed-Veal, the mother of Sandra Bland are all scheduled to speak on Tuesday. The founders of BLM, who have chosen not to support a candidate, have not been invited to speak.
In the weeks leading up to both conventions the tension surrounding the BLM movement has dramatically increased following the tragic deaths of law abiding African Americans and police officers from across the nation.
The Republican National Convention spent a week demonizing, slandering, and undermining the movement by painting it as a terroristic entity that champions anarchy and harm to police officers. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke celebrated the fact that no police officers were convicted for the death of Freddie Gray, and led the audience in cheering “Blue Lives Matter.” And regular renditions of “All Lives Matter” were cheered to the rafters at the RNC. They projected a message of BLM vs. the police and demanded an absolute, unquestionable fealty to the police in the name of law and order.
The Democrats, by featuring these mothers, are clearly looking at matters from the other point of view. And not everyone is thrilled about it. The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police has even stated that the group is “shocked and saddened” that these mothers have been chosen as speakers at the DNC.
The dangerous, mob-like fervor of the Republican National Convention and its divisive, fear-mongering rhetoric has made the stakes of Tuesday night’s speeches incredibly high. America needs to see the tragic origins of these unintended representatives of this vital movement, so that they can see beyond the GOP’s destructive rhetoric. America needs to understand that all the mothers speaking at the DNC would much rather be at home with their children, who were taken too soon, rather than addressing the nation and describing their sorrows. Our society needs to grasp the fact that these women are speaking as a collective because they know that the fears they’ve had for their children’s safety is a reality that they and countless other black mothers, fathers, and families equally share. This is not an isolated struggle, but a collective push for equality, justice, and advancement for black Americans.
However, expanding America’s collective understanding of this struggle is not enough to bring about the change that our society greatly needs. Throughout this election cycle the BLM movement has been at odds with both political parties as they championed their belief in civil disobedience to create the change they desire. Segments of the movement such as Deray McKesson’s Campaign Zero have tried to engage with politicians, but BLM and their network of autonomous chapters located across the nation have consistently projected an apolitical ideology.
Source: The Daily Beast |Barrett Holmes Pitner