Black Lives Matter.
That's it. I have no caveats, no 'but...', no exceptions. Every black life matters.
Now, I've been hearing this for a year, usually in hashtags, or screamed at me by protestors. Usually, that's all the protestors say. That's what they want, they want black lives to matter. Well? They can stop protesting now, because they got what they want. They want black lives to matter, and they do.
Perhaps they need some proof? No problem. Swing by Albert Einstein's trauma ER one night, and wait. You'll see how much they matter. Listen to a police radio, and soon enough, you'll hear it. A loud beep, followed by, "Cars stand by, cars stand by, person with a gun..." There will be a location, then some information, and then? "Report of a male down on the highway." Now, here's where you'll see the cops get it. You'll understand that to the cops, black lives matter. You'll hear numbers, "fourteen tom one", "fourteen fourteen".....its cops, letting a dispatcher know that they are rushing to the scene. What you won't hear? "Hey, radio....they black guys that were shot? I need to know." Do you know why? Because it doesn't matter. Granted, in Philly? There's an 81% chance the victim is black. But the cop doesn't ask, because all he knows? Somewhere in the city, MY city, someone used his pointer finger, applied 5 pounds of pressure to a thin piece of plastic, and as a result? Someone is bleeding, wounded.....dying. Someone took out a gun, and said "your life doesn't matter", and a cop is racing there, to prove that life does.
Stay in the ER bay. Sure, you'll be tempted to run to the location and see the madness for yourself, but that's a waste of your time. The cops are trying to keep that life from becoming a homicide statistic. A cop pulled up, and grabbed a bloody body, pulling against his own, and drug him into the back of a marked car. "Stay with me, buddy. Cmon, stay with me." Hands red in the blood of another man, uniform that was crisp and clean is now a testament to the violence of the streets, and the dying man is in the back of the car, lights and sirens fading as he races to Einstein. "Radio, tell em I have one, shot in the back" (or chest, or head, I've said every body part at one time or another.). The car leans hard as it rounds the corner into the back of the hospital, sirens and lights shutting off as the car screeches to a halt. The cop leaps out, pulls open the door, and grabs the guy....nurses stream out of the double sliding glass doors and help, putting the male on a bed and pushing him into the waiting trauma room.
The cop stands, catching his breath, blood on his hands and shirt, the side of the car, the back seat. He walks into the hospital, and starts cleaning up, an exercise in futility. He's giving conditions on a dying man, and other cops are at the scene, asking if anyone knows what happened.
Everyone knows. No one talks.
I've heard a million excuses, and I get it. Snitches get stitches, or "it ain't my problem". That's what they say. What a cop hears? "I ain't saying shit because that guy? He doesn't matter."
But he does. Every life does. Which is why the people who live next door to him, the guy who hung with him all night, the neighbor who's kids play with his kids, the people invested in that neighborhood, it's why they draw the ire of the responding cops. Because if they felt every life mattered? They'd come together, speak up, and put blinding light into the dark corners of street violence, and chase away the vermin that prey on once prideful and beautiful neighborhoods.
That's not to say they don't know how to come together and speak up. I've stood outside the district while protestors, those same faces from the corner, the same concerned citizens who didn't see nothin', scream into the faces of my fellow officers. "The only good cop is a dead cop." "F*@k the police." And the worst, they read the names of fallen officers, followed by "Rest in Piss". They demand the immediate release of 'innocent victims of brutality', and then give the name of a drug dealer who bit a chunk out of a cops leg while being arrested. They give the name of a cop killer who they claim is innocent, even though the killer has never claimed to be. They demand we simply stop policing. We turn in our guns and let them police themselves.
These protestors call themselves the black lives matter movement. But they are wrong. There is a real movement, and it's out there every day. These kids? They're just angry, uneducated fools. They're selfish children who feel only they matter, no one else.
But black lives do matter. And the real movement is showing its face every day. Black clergy, walking the streets and pointing at the drug boys, saying 'we won't take your mess out here.', Standing defiant in the face of fear. Black lives matter when city councilpersons stand in the park, providing a safe haven for kids to play without fear of being shot. Black lives matter when you see black man, dressed in his police uniform, white shirt and gold emblems, showing he has put in the work, and climbed the ranks, and yet he still goes out to the scene, still puts his ear to the ground, and listens to the people he serves. If you wanna see the REAL black lives matter movement? Look at every facet of city government, look at teachers in our schools, look at the faces in police cars as they pass, look at our small business owners, and realize, that every day, cops kiss their wives and kids goodbye, and head out the door to save a life, or stop a crime, or face down death, and to show that on their watch? Yes, black lives matter.
--Written by and published here with permission of Jo Mason.