Cedric Johnson in Jacobin:
Former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the supreme booster of “broken windows” policing, was quick to attack Black Lives Matter activists, claiming that BLM is “inherently racist because, number one, it divides us.” He also chastised activists for allegedly ignoring violence within black communities and suggested that they were responsible for civilian-police conflicts because their criticism “puts a target on the backs of” police officers.
Other conservatives have echoed claims that the Obama administration and Black Lives Matter protests have created dangerous conditions for police officers. They are wrong. Policing is not the most hazardous occupation in the United States. In fact, it is not even in the top ten.
And contrary to the claim that the Obama administration — no unwavering supporter of anti–police brutality efforts — has enabled anti-police sentiment, violence against police officers has decreased during Obama’s tenure, especially when compared to the George W. Bush years. Over 70 percent of the violence against law enforcement that has occurred so far this year has been carried out by white men.
Finally, anti–police brutality struggles should not be reduced to the “movement for black lives.” Surely the hashtag and slogan, and the network of activists who align with BLM, have been instrumental in drawing national and international attention to the issue of police violence, but on the ground, protests are comprised of all manner of people representing victims’ families, traditional civil rights organizations, neighborhood and community groups, labor unions, civil liberties advocates, youth and student organizations, various left political tendencies, and solitary actors. And organizing against police brutality has a much longer lineage, one that certainly predates the birth of BLM’s millennial spokespersons.
In the hands of conservatives, Black Lives Matter has become an easy foil for dismissing a longer-standing set of struggles against police violence and mass incarceration.