Sunday was the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement, drawing attention to police brutality against African Americans.
For the Staten Island Yankees, the Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, Sunday was “Blue Lives Matter Day.”
Not insensitive at all, Staten Island Yankees! pic.twitter.com/rlFZQ5mw9Z
— Aaron Fischer (@AaronFisch) August 9, 2015
Purportedly, Blue Lives Matter is a charity set up “to help Law Enforcement Officers and their families during their time of need.” But the issue is not a new one and other charities with the same stated goal have been in operation for years. Blue Lives Matter was launched less than a year ago as a rhetorical response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Like the refrain “All Lives Matter” it is used — online and elsewhere — to undercut the notion that there is a particular problem with police brutality against people of color. Writing on The Root, cultural critic Kirsten West Savali said the promotion sent the message that “black lives don’t matter to [the Staten Island Yankees] or the Yankees organization.” Passing out “Blue Lives Matter” wristbands to every fan on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death “goes hand in hand with the continued dehumanization of black Americans,” she wrote.
Monica Weymouth of Philadelphia Magazine expanded on the insensitivity “Blue Lives Matter” amid the ongoing efforts to draw attention to victims of police violence.
Blue Lives Matter — the rallies, the signs, the Facebook profile photos — is not about supporting the police during a difficult time. There are certainly good people and noble movements out there doing just that, but this isn’t one of them. Blue Lives Matter is a racially charged reaction to Black Lives Matter… It is an inflammatory slogan that occupies that strange, uncomfortable space between threatened and threatening.
In a response to outraged fans published on The Root, a marketing director for the Staten Island Yankees, Michael Holley, acknowledged that the day was about more than honoring the families of police officers. Holley said the team “put a lot of thought into whether or not to hold” the “Blue Lives Matter” event because “this issue is so divisive.” Holley offered that he would be “thrilled… if someone approached us about a fundraiser to support the fallen on all sides of any conflict.”