The Black Lives Matter movement is winning. The movement has doubled down on their commitment to remain peaceful in the wake of the deaths of Philado Castile and Alton Sterling – the latest of black men to be shot and killed at the hands of police officers – and the murders of five Dallas police officers by a lone and ostracized gunman. They are also doing this in the face of police forces that are acting more like an army occupying a foreign territory.
But those aren’t the real reasons why the movement is winning.
The real reason why the movement is winning is that modern day George Wallaces are now fighting back. Legislators in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Michigan, Massachusetts and a number of other states have introduced racist legislation that is promptly named “Blue Lives Matter” Bills. These bills will classify crimes committed against police officers and correction officers as hate crimes by adding “the employment of law enforcement officer” to those protected under hate crime laws.
There is irony in all of this.
The images coming out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the aftermath of Alton Sterling’s death shows us how an American city can look like an occupied territory. They also expose the disconnect between the residents and the political class that runs their state. The capitol building that sits near the area of unrest was the birthplace of the “Blue Lives Matter” bill that other states are now pursuing.
What is most upsetting is that the disconnect between local residents and the ruling political elites is nothing new to Baton Rouge. Other capitol cities like Jackson, Mississippi or Harrisburg, Pennsylvania face similar situations of extreme poverty and a political class that does not care about the cities they operate in. These laws will drive the wedge deeper into the fractured relations between local residents and their police departments while those who drafted these will not have to bare the consequences of these divisions.