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FACTS about blue lives matter

Blue Lives Matter was created as a countermovement to Black Lives Matter in 2014.

It's important to understand how we got here.

The Black Lives Matter movement began as a hashtag on social media by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi in 2013 after George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, was acquitted.

In 2014, when police killed Eric Garner in New York City and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the Black Lives Matter movement grew in order to raise awareness about and call for action against institutionalized racism.

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on him for nearly nine minutes.

Black Lives Matter protests erupted all over the world in response.

And confusion about Blue Lives Matter and how it relates to Black Lives Matter began to appear at dinner tables, on social media walls, and in classrooms around the country.

So what is Blue Lives Matter? And why does the thin blue line we've seen a lot since 2014 cause harm to Black people?

The thin blue line symbol that signifies the Blue Lives Matter movement has a history that goes back to the Crimean War.

In 1854, the British army held off an attack by Russian cavalry, and the act was referred to as the 'thin red line' because of the color of their uniforms.

The phrase 'thin blue line' was first used in a poem in the early 20th century as a reference to blue US Army uniforms.

In the 1950s and 60s, Chief William Parker of LAPD used the 'thin blue line' phrase to refer to his police department -- as the only thing between law and order and social and civil anarchy.

Chief Parker relied on racist, militaristic tactics to 'clean up' Los Angeles, and engendered an us-against-them mentality in LAPD officers.

The phrase became further popularized by police departments in 1988 from the documentary film The Thin Blue Line about the murder of a Dallas police officer.

In 2014, after the homicides of two NYPD officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, which are thought to be in retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, the image of a black and white American flag with a thin blue line became emblematic of the Blue Lives Matter movement.

The emblem and slogan were created in direct opposition to Black Lives Matter.

And the cycle of police brutality against Black people has continued. Countless Black lives have been lost at the hands of our increasingly militarized police force.

Since 2014, white nationalist groups have flown Blue Lives Matter flags at their openly racist rallies.

In May 2020, SFPD officers were banned from wearing COVID-19 face masks with thin blue line symbols, because the image has become so controversial.

And on June 1, 2020, the Middletown, CT Police Department removed its Blue Lives Matter flag from public view after a local petition called for its removal.

Saying Blue Lives Matter is not as simple as saying that you support the police, and can cause actual harm to Black people.

Black Lives Matter does not call for harm against police, or any other person. It is a worldwide, multicultural movement to end racism.

And it's important to remember that while police officers can take off their uniforms, Black people cannot take off their skin.

To summarize:

Black Lives Matter is an inclusive movement that actively fights against institutionalized racism.

Neither Blue Lives Matter nor the Blue Lives Matter flag existed before 2014, when Black Lives Matter began gaining national attention.

Blue Lives Matter causes harm to people of color. It's time we set the record straight.

Credits:

Photo credits: Joel Filipe - "untitled image." Johnny Silvercloud/Flickr LA Johnson/NPR Fibonnaci Blue/Flickr Shirien.Creates / Instagram THOMAS PATTERSON/AFP/Getty Images ABCNews Wikipedia