A response to the “why are you protesting for this criminal?” attempt at excusing police brutality

When speaking out against instances of police brutality and racism, I often hear a response along the lines of “why are you protesting for this criminal?” Since I hear it enough, I thought I would write a brief response here so that I can just provide the link in the future and not waste type typing a separate response. For all the reasons stated below, the “why are you protesting for this criminal?” retort is baseless and often disingenuous.

Background on the “why are you protesting for this criminal?” retort

When I’ve commented online about police brutality and protests that I have organized in response to that brutality, there are invariably comments made by people who assert that because the person who the police abused had a criminal history, there should be no protests over that instance of brutality. There are similar memes shared online, expressing the idea that if the person who was abused by police has a criminal history then it is wrong to protest that abuse committed by the police. Sometimes these memes will take the form of “[Insert name of police brutality victim] beat up his ex-girlfriend in 2009, why are you all protesting a domestic abuser. Imagine how she must feel about people saying his name like he is a hero.”

Obviously I don’t endorse people committing crimes, but that is not a reason to ignore instance of police brutality and racism, as I’ll discuss below.

Police shouldn’t execute or otherwise abuse anyone

Whether a person is a cancer-curing, Noble-prize-winning, orphan-rescuing hero or a terribly violent jerk, it is not the role of the police to meet out vengeance through unwarranted violence.  A person does not need to be venerated as a hero for us to conclude that the police were wrong for mistreating them. The way I see it, standing against government-sponsored violence against a vulnerable individual is always right – whether that vulnerable individual is someone who I would want to have over for dinner or not.

Remember, the foundation of our existence as a country under the rule of law is that no one is above the law’s prohibitions, and no one is beneath the law’s protections.
This is a pretty simple concept so I won’t spend much more time on it.  We have courts and a criminal justice system to decide whether a person is guilty and what sentence they should receive. Extrajudicial violence from police officers (who are themselves breaking the law and the oaths they took when becoming police officers) is not justice and should always be condemned.

Anyone who still doesn’t get this should look at numerous examples where vigilante “justice” has resulted in terrible atrocities. The lynching of Emmett Till is a good starting point.

The focus on the criminal record of a person wrongfully killed by the police is grasping at straws to find a reason to oppose much-needed social change

Those who are opposed to civil rights progress search for any reason to justify their opposition.  When Colin Kaepernick peacefully and silently took a knee, those opposed to civil rights falsely claimed he was disrespecting American soldiers.  When professional athletes when on strike, attacks were made on their characters. Trying to find ways to smear the victims of police brutality and use that as an argument against protesting that instance of brutality is just another such tactic. Literally every approach taken by civil rights activists to fix the problems of police brutality and racism are met with scorn and derision.

Police manage to arrest many violent, terrible white people without murdering them

I have already written a separate article addressing the fact that police choose to use force more often and with more violence when dealing with black people than when dealing with white people.  In that article I provide scientific evidence to support that conclusion, discus how the studies mirror what I have seen in my personal life as a black man and as an attorney who has represented people who were mistreated by the police, and provide links to that evidence. Read that article here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/06/17/police-use-of-force-depends-upon-the-race-of-the-suspect/

Violent police pose a danger to us all
A situation where the police are permitted to brutalize someone who they believe has a bad criminal history poses a very real danger to us all. Many of the cases of police brutality that have led to protests involve the police misidentifying an innocent person as a criminal and then using violence against that innocent person.  Any of us (or our loved ones) could be the next innocent person who the police brutalize.  As such it behooves everyone to take a stand against police brutality.

Indeed, the “mistaken identify” risk is so high that police are actually killing each other because they are so violent and trigger-happy.  If those opposed to civil rights actually cared about the well-being of the police officers they claim to back, they would want to see the problem of police brutality fixed so that those police officers would stop killing each other.  More on that issue can be seen in the separate article I’ve written here: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/07/16/police-in-america-are-so-violent-and-trigger-happy-that-they-are-accidentally-killing-each-other/

Finally, given the inherent racism in our criminal courts where many black and brown people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, or convicted in factual situation where a white defendant would not have had the conviction go on their record, the fact that someone has a criminal conviction should not be seen as conclusive evidence that they are factually guilty or are a bad person deserving of hatred. I’ve also written a separate article on that point, complete with numerous citations to scientific studies: https://www.learnaboutguns.com/2020/07/05/our-criminal-courts-are-inherently-racist/

White Supremacists and related people falsely Accuse Black Lives Matters protesters and other minorities of violence

People who are opposed to civil rights progress have a long history of trying to smear civil rights groups and their organizers. That was true for Dr. Martin Luther King and it remains true today with Black Lives Matter. The following examples illustrate that point, and show how BLM and minorities are being falsely blamed, and how many attacks on people and police are simply made up stories. The same is true for cases where white people have been found committing a crime themselves, while trying to pin the blame on some random black person. So, when you see a news article or facebook post blaming protesters for violence or property damage, please be skeptical and realize there is a very good chance that you’ll later learn that it was an attempt to falsely blame protesters or black people in general.

Fox Lake, Illinois Police Officer Committed Suicide After Years of ‘Extensive Criminal Acts’: The investigation found the lieutenant had been committing “extensive criminal acts,” including stealing and laundering money from the Fox Lake Police Explorer Post over the past seven years, officials said. Thousands of dollars were used for personal purchases, including adult websites, officials said. Authorities determined Gliniewicz intentionally left a staged trail at the crime scene to try to mislead first responders that this was a homicide scene. Gliniewicz had significant experience staging mock crime scenes as a part of his job, officials said. When staging his suicide, he falsely claimed that a black man was among those attacking him. https://abcnews.go.com/US/authorities-reveal-conclusive-results-shooting-death-fox-lake/story?id=34961028

A cop’s wife faked home robbery, blamed Black Lives Matter, police say: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/massachusetts-cops-wife-faked-robbery-indicated-black-lives-matter-police-say/

A Firefighter charged with setting fire to own home — and blaming it on Black Lives Matter: https://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/new-york-firefighter-charged-with-setting-fire-to-own-home-and-blaming-it-on-black-lives-matter/

Two White people get gaught tagging “BLM” on a store: https://thinkamericana.com/two-white-protesters-get-caught-tagging-blm-on-store-get-call/

White supremacists pose as Antifa online, call for violence: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/02/tech/antifa-fake-twitter-account/index.html

A piece of racist propaganda was circulated in an attempt to smear the Black Lives Matter movement: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/blm-flyer-enemy-of-people/

Fake ‘Kill A White’ flyers in Edinburgh have nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, say activists. The inflammatory flyers call for white people, police and white MPs to be killed, Black Lives Matter campaigners in the capital believe they were created by “right-wing groups” to smear the anti-racism campaign: https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/edinburgh-news/fake-kill-white-flyers-edinburgh-18423128.amp

A man welcomed dozens of protesters into his home as police ‘pinned’ them on street. This had been falsely reported and spread online as a home invasion, but rather it was the home owner actively inviting the protesters (who he supported) into his own home to help save the protesters from the violence police officers: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/02/dc-protesters-welcomed-into-rahul-dubey-home-police/5317028002/

Fact Check: Vietnam Memorial NOT Defaced By Rioters During Protests Following George Floyd’s Death: https://leadstories.com/hoax-alert/2020/06/fact-check-vietnam-memorial-not-defaced-during-protests-and-rioting-following-george-floyds-death.html

When 27-year-old Samantha Shader was first arrested for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at police, she told detectives that the supplies—including glass bottles—were given to her by a group of Black men and women, according to federal court records. But weeks later, on Friday, police arrested a white man who admitted to providing the materials. Prosecutors said that Shader, who was allegedly caught on camera hurling the bottle toward the police vehicle, has been previously arrested 11 times in 11 states: https://www.thedailybeast.com/protester-samantha-schader-tried-to-blame-black-man-for-molotov-cocktail-supplied-then-nypd-found-a-note?ref=home

Two drunk white college students, who witnesses alleged were using racial slurs according to news reports, tore down the statue of Frederick Douglass. 20-year-old John Boedicker of Endicott and 21-year-old Charles Milks of Kenmore were arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Many initial reports and articles falsely blamed Black Lives Matters protesters for this crime, insinuating that the BLM protesters were so stupid as to not understand that Frederick Douglass was actually a former slave who had escaped slavery to become a powerful voice against slavery. https://13wham.com/news/local/police-two-males-damage-frederick-douglass-statue

Following a review of hundreds of photos and over 50 videos from the scene, Oaklandside reports that tear gas canisters shot by police during the demonstration against the slaying of George Floyd — not protesters with (per police) “Molotov cocktails” — that caused a fire that damaged Buffet Fortuna, one of Oakland Chinatown’s largest restaurants. https://sf.eater.com/2020/7/7/21315944/oakland-police-protest-boby-guys-nyum-bai-belcampo-daily-driver-hella-bagels

Citizens of Virginia and the rest of the country were shocked as headlines across the internet reported that a Fauquier County Sheriff’s Deputy was found unconscious on the roadside after being attacked by people driving a black SUV. The blue line supporters came out in full force driving home the narrative that there is a war on cops. However, after police began investigating the incident, they quickly found out that no attack ever happened and the cop who made up the false claim that he had been attacked was arrested: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-arrested-after-manhunt-launched-for-an-attack-he-faked-on-himself/

Riots in downtown Richmond over the weekend were instigated by white supremacists under the guise of Black Lives Matter, according to law enforcement officials. https://www.wsls.com/news/virginia/2020/07/27/police-richmond-riots-instigated-by-white-supremacists-disguised-as-black-lives-matter/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=snd&utm_content=wsls10

Police say ‘Umbrella Man’ was a white supremacist trying to incite George Floyd rioting: https://www.startribune.com/police-umbrella-man-was-a-white-supremacist-trying-to-incite-george-floyd-rioting/571932272/

New York State Cop Allowed to Retire After Making Phony 911 Alleging He Was Shot By Black Youths, Mayor Claimed Retirement Is ‘Least Expensive Way’ To Get Rid of Him: https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/08/17/new-york-state-cop-allowed-to-retire-after-making-phony-911-alleging-he-was-shot-by-black-youths-mayor-claimed-retirement-is-least-expensive-way-to-get-rid-of-him/

Texas hunters who blamed immigrants actually shot each other, cops say: The hunters told police they suspected the shooters were undocumented immigrants they had seen on the ranch earlier in their trip. Their story soon jumped into online right-wing circles, thanks in part to Texas Commissioner of Agriculture and Donald Trump ally Sid Miller. But it was a lie, according to police and, now, a grand jury. Investigators determined that guides Walker Daughetry and Michael Bryant in fact shot at one another by accident, striking Daughetry and hunter Edwin Roberts in the process. Daughetry and Bryant were indicted for third-degree felonies last Wednesday. https://thinkprogress.org/texas-hunters-who-blamed-immigrants-actually-shot-each-other-cops-say-5607b0145119/

The Associated Press checks out some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. This one is bogus, even though it was shared widely on social media. Here are the facts:
CLAIM: Photos show four police officers who were injured by Democrats and Black Lives Matter rioters over the weekend in Portland, Seattle and nearby cities.
THE FACTS: The officers in the photos weren’t injured at U.S. protests — in fact, they were on the other side of the world. . . Research into the origin of the photos reveals they were all taken in Australia — and not over the weekend. https://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2020/08/did-you-see-photos-of-officers-supposedly-injured-last-weekend-in-nw-cities-the-facts-dont-check-out.html

Fact check: Trump shares White nationalist’s video in retweet falsely blaming Black Lives Matter for 2019 subway assault. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/31/politics/fact-check-trump-subway-assault-black-lives-matter-antifa/index.html

Officials confirm that the social media rumors of Black Lives Matters and Antifa setting the devastating wildfires are untrue and ask people to stop sharing those untrue rumors. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/10/us/antifa-wildfires.html

Officer Goulart’s “ambush” story began to fall apart. Investigators realized there was no ambush and officer Goulart shot himself in the leg. Just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Goulart was arrested for faking his own ambush. He was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center on one count of criminal mischief and one count of malfeasance in office: https://thefreethoughtproject.com/cop-shot-during-ambush-arrested-because-he-actually-shot-himself-and-made-it-all-up/

A white Texas man accused of killing the mother of his daughter disguised himself in blackface to commit the act, police say. https://atlantablackstar.com/2020/10/09/cops-say-murder-suspect-wore-blackface-and-fake-beard-to-kill-his-daughters-mother-witnesses-initially-identified-suspect-as-a-black-man/

For the people who are tired of protests and activism surrounding police brutality and racism

I am entirely unconcerned about people who are inconvenienced by seeing a protest, or seeing activism on Facebook. If you think that seeing a protest or having Black Lives Matters show up in your facebook newsfeed is tiring, let me assure you that actually experiencing racism and abuse from the police is a lot more upsetting and exhausting. If you want to see Black Lives Matters protests go away, then take action to solve the problem that causes the protests. Expect the protests and activism to continue until the problem is resolved.