Is The Black Lives Matter Movement Peaceful or Violent?

My Facebook friend posted this the other day: “Black Lives Matter is not a hate group. The perception that it is only highlights the problems they’re addressing.” I had to ask myself, “Is the #BlackLivesMatter movement peaceful, at it’s core, or violent?”

As I understand it, the BLM movement unofficially began with a social media hashtag in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman. However, BLM, as a nationally recognized protest movement, gained it’s real momentum after the 2014 death of Michael Brown resulting in protests and riots in Ferguson, MO. Since then, the BLM banner has been flown all over the US by law abiding citizens and law breaking citizens alike. I’m not an expert but my proximity to the Black Lives Matter movement may be of some help here since I live in Downtown St. Louis just a few miles away from Ferguson. As I see it, attempting to label the movement peaceful and law abiding or violent and criminal is not exactly a black & white endeavor. It’s quite grey, in my estimation.

BLM, like most grassroots movements, has inconsistent and splintered ideologies and methodologies and is as diverse as the people who pick up the banner and wave it. There’s no central hub, no ruling body, and no real organizational chart. Without an organized governing body, without firm creeds, without policies and procedures, without consistent branding, without codification and regulation, etc. it’s impossible to label it accurately. Who’s to say that violent methods aren’t consistent with the movement? Who’s to say that peaceful methods aren’t consistent with the movement? For what it’s worth, most of the folks that are flying the BLM banner in my city seem to be law abiding citizens. Are they acting in accordance with the movement or not? Until the movement is organized and policies and procedures are codified we really can’t answer that question. 

As a side note: Police officers all over the country do have firm creeds, firm policies and procedures, codified ideas and methods, etc. Here’s an important point: Most officers are law abiding citizens and act in accordance with their department’s policies. That’s a testable fact. Officers breaking the law and acting outside of their policies are the exception not the rule. They are not representing the core principles of their organization. Unlike the BLM folks, police officers can be judged according to their own objective standards. Consider this: The statement “All cops are law breaking racists!” is as untrue as “All blacks are criminals!” and “All BLM protestors are criminals!” The false narratives go both ways and both are unhelpful and destructive. However, police behavior can be measured against policy. BLM behavior cannot (yet).

My two pennies.