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Black and blue lives matter

As President John F. Kennedy said, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

American lives have been taken. Red blood has been spilled. In times of tragedy, it’s crucial that we come together as a country to put an end to this violence.

So often, we criticize politicians and Congress for making no progress when it comes to legislation like gun control reform after a mass shooting. How can we be so hypocritical in ignoring the escalating violence in our society?

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are just the latest in a series of police shootings involving members of the black community. Alton Sterling was selling CDs outside a store when two Baton Rouge police officers encountered him. The officers knew his background. Sterling had been arrested 17 times in his life for various crimes. In the video of the shooting, you can see the officers pinning Sterling to the ground, and you can hear one officer shout, “He’s got a gun! Gun!” before Sterling was shot multiple times in the chest.

Whether the police shot Sterling because he had a gun or because he was black is up for great debate, but frankly, it isn’t important. Arguing over the reasoning behind the shooting won’t bring Sterling back. Rather, it will only cause division between people on both sides of the argument.

Castile was pulled over for an ordinary traffic violation. Upon telling the officer that he legally concealed carried, he went to reach for his license. The officer then shot Castile in the chest four times. Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting to Facebook.

Both shootings are part of a larger problem: police killings. From May 2013 to April 2015 — a two-year period — police killed 782 whites, 464 blacks, 302 Hispanics and 26 Asians. That’s 1,574 people killed by police in two years.

Obviously, sometimes, police are forced to take defensive actions that result in the death of people involved. I’m not trying to justify the police killings, but I’m not saying that all 1,574 deaths were in the wrong either.

I didn’t bring up these statistics to try to prove anything about race. In case you’re the one in the back going, “See! More whites get killed by police than any other race!” allow me to inform you of statistics: whites outnumber blacks five to one and Hispanics four to one in our country. That means that, given the above statistics, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to die at the hands of the police.

What I am trying to do is bring the larger issue to light. Police across this country kill a lot of people; however, a lot of people kill police across this country too. Since 2013, 173 police officers have been killed in the line of duty. Neither of these facts justifies the other. As Gandhi brilliantly stated, “an eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”

Thursday night in Dallas, what was meant to be a peaceful protest against police brutality turned deadly for officers in the area. Eleven were shot and five were killed when multiple snipers opened fire on officers in the city.

This action can only be seen as retaliation for the recent police shootings as well as a buildup of police shootings in the past.

Revenge cannot be the answer. Targeting police officers simply for their uniform is no better than shooting someone for the color of their skin. You simply can’t fight fire with fire. Whatever cliché it takes, this has to stop.

There are racist police officers. There are violent members of the black community. This doesn’t mean anything. There are racist and violent members of every community and group, racial or professional. They are an inevitable minority that can never be fully defeated.

The realization we open our eyes to is that the vast majority of people are good people. Of over 1.1 million law enforcement officers, the actions of a small handful cannot represent the entire profession. Of over 40 million blacks, the actions of a small handful cannot represent the entire race.

Black or blue, all lives matter. Call me racist or ignorant; tell me to check my privilege all you want, but every single life in this world matters. No single life matters more than another.

Trevor Noah phrased it best on a recent episode of “The Daily Show”:

“If you’re pro-black lives matter, you’re assumed to be anti-police. If you’re pro-police, then you surely hate black people. It seems that it’s either pro-cop and anti-black or pro-black and anti-cop. In reality, you can be pro-cop and pro-black, which is what we should all be.”

As a country, we must come together to support both the black community and police officers. We are all human. We all bleed red. We all bruise black and blue. We all matter.

About The Author

Sam Palmisano

Sam Palmisano is a freshman dual-majoring in economics and marketing. Sam loves kayaking and ping pong. Outside of Eagle News, Sam is a member of the Honors program and Student Conduct Committee, and serves as President of the Palmetto Hall Area Council. His goals are to be a political economist and to one day run for Congress. You can find Sam getting into arguments on social media or playing frisbee on the library lawn.

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