Black Lives Matter just 'tells it like it is' on criminal justice system
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Last week, after three days and three separate shooting incidents in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, greater St. Paul, Minnesota, and Dallas, the debate about the relationship between black Americans and the police, coupled with Second Amendment concerns and a National Rifle Association that is selective in its outrage, reached a fever pitch and has placed Americans of all races on edge as we search for answers.


As I watched television coverage of the tragic deaths, within hours of each other, of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and five Dallas police officers who were ambushed by a gunman during a Black Lives Matter rally, it became clear to me that lines in the sand are being drawn by a right wing that refuses to give any credibility to concerns that the criminal justice is separate and unequal according to race.

While notable conservatives former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: Amazon wins union election — says 'our employees made the choice' Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists The growing threat of China's lawfare MORE (R-Fla.) had the temerity to admit last week that black fears of racial bias in the justice system are legitimate, two leading conservative talk radio hosts, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, summarily dismissed these concerns as as a left-wing racial agenda.

Even worse is presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech MORE, a man who spent two days ignoring the deaths of Sterling and Castile and only mentioned gun violence in the wake of the Dallas police massacre.

Many supporters of Trump, when pressed for reasons as to why they are drawn to his candidacy, will say that they like how he "tells it like it is." If you press them further and ask about how he has told it with respect to American Muslims, the disabled, Mexican-Americans, women and "The Blacks," they usually will fall back on "he is not politically correct" or "I am sick and tired of being politically correct."

But last week, I found it hypocritical that many of the same ones who love how Trump "tells it like it is" got angry and dismissive when blacks began to tell it like it is — and always has been — as far as police encounters are concerned in our communities. These Trump supporters had the gall to demand that blacks "dial it back" or "tone it down" because it makes them feel uncomfortable.


Since the Black Lives Matter movement emerged in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin's death in 2012, many conservatives, including Trump, have countered by exclaiming that "All Lives Matter." But do they really, when considering Trump's silence about Sterling and Castile, or the NRA taking almost three days to address Castile's death? Castile, it should be noted, was a lawful gun owner who held a concealed permit and, according to his fiance who witnessed his death, Diamond Reynolds, was shot multiple times even after telling Officer Jeronimo Yanez about his permit and gun.

Indeed, there is a sinister effort from many on the right to paint blacks in America as being against the police. Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) issued a since-deleted tweet that the Dallas police massacre meant "This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matters punks."

In summary, the Black Lives Matter movement has never been led by punks or meant that "only" black lives are important; it has been a peaceful movement to point out that in the criminal justice system, black deaths at the hands of the police are not treated equally. Additionally, while I am not surprised, I find it appalling that some conservatives are linking Dallas police killer Micah Johnson to the Black Lives Matter movement; he was a solo sniper who quite likely was mentally unstable following several tours in Afghanistan and his acts must be imputed to him, not to the movement or black people as a whole.

Further, neither I nor most of my black friends and social media followers have ever advocated for a war against the police. Neither has Obama and it is foolish for conservatives to suggest that the problems with police brutality in the black community began on his watch. No, the only difference now is that smartphones and body cameras provide valuable evidence to counter the trite officer-involved shooting talking point that the officer "feared for his or her life." Such evidence is critical because it allows us to force a dialogue — not a monologue — about how to create a more perfect union where all citizens feel as if they are being treated equally under the law.

Hobbs is a trial lawyer and award-winning freelance writer based in Tallahassee, Florida. Follow him on Twitter @RealChuckHobbs.