One day after Robert Lewis Dear allegedly opened fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, killing three and injuring nine others, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement calling critics “race baiting morons” and “delusional ignorant fools.” The statement, posted on the police union’s Facebook page, came in response to outrage over officers’ treatment of white killers like Dear, who was handcuffed and taken into custody alive after killing a cop.
“In yesterday’s heroic police action the shooter was given the opportunity to surrender. The choice to live or die was his. He chose to live, laid down his weapon, complied with all commands and peacefully surrendered,” the statement reads. “What the race baiting morons who believe that he was spared because he was white fail to acknowledge is that just this year alone there have been numerous shootings of police officers where the suspects were taken into custody. Many of those suspects were persons of color.”
While the statement did not name the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement specifically, it did reference the the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” slogan that was born after Michael Brown’s shooting. The phrase became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew during and after the protests in Ferguson.
Activists across the country have pointed to the disparate treatment of white and black people confronted by police. Mass murderers like Dear, Dylann Roof — who was fed Burger King after shooting and killing nine people at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina — and James Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 70 others in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, have been taken into custody unscathed. After the biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas, which ended with nine people dead and many more injured, some of the gang members were allowed to use their cell phones, handcuff-free.
In stark contrast, unarmed black people have been killed by police on the spot. Others who have had less threatening weapons in their possession have also been killed without due process.
Tamir Rice was a black kid with a toy gun shot by cops in seconds. Robert Lewis Dear is white, killed a cop but is alive. #BlackLivesMatter
— Aaron Gouveia (@DaddyFiles) November 28, 2015
— Biracial Brother (@Jonesdc) November 28, 2015
— Andrew Brennan (@AndrewSB49) November 28, 2015
Only in American does a white man who commit domestic terrorism shoot 5 cops,kill 3,injure 9, and still come out alive #PlannedParenthood
— Rosa A. Clemente (@rosaclemente) November 28, 2015
Robert Lewis Dear: kills three people including a cop. Still Alive. Laquan McDonald: walks away from cops holding a knife. Dead.
— Travon Free (@Travon) November 28, 2015
In addition to slamming their critics, the Colorado FOP perpetuated the misconception that saying black lives matter means other lives do not.
“Sadly there are race baiting delusional ignorant fools with an agenda of hate that use any tragic event to peddle their corrupted opinion,” the group wrote. “What they don’t understand is our job is to preserve life not take it. You see for us all lives matter.”
BLM opponents claim the movement’s supporters are part of a hate group that reduces the importance of other people’s lives — a talking point that has been skewered by activists. GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz (TX) and Chris Christie (NJ) have also said BLM is responsible for attacks on cops.
During a criminal justice panel last month, President Obama explained that the term “black lives matter” has been misconstrued.
“It started being lifted up as ‘these folks are opposed to police, and they’re opposed to cops, and all lives matter.’ So the notion was somehow saying black lives matter was reverse racism, or suggesting other people’s lives didn’t matter or police officers’ lives didn’t matter,” he said. In reality, he noted, the phrase references a “specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities.”