Civic Artifact Speech Outline
(It helps me more to write it out first then go from there. I will not be using any index cards during my speech.)
Setting the Scene/ Attention Getter:
I’m sure many, if not all of you, have heard or saw scenarios as shown above. The fat, slobby cop hanging-out eating his donut and sipping on his coffee. It’s hysterical because I know cops that fit the bill to a tee! This is not my artifact, but I just want to clear the air of all of those negative, silly depictions of police officers so that you can get the most out of my talk. Along with those funny depictions of cops, I ask that for this presentation you clear your negative thoughts about police officers from your mind, just for the time being.
In 2014, Eric Garner, a black man from Staten Island, New York, and Michael Brown, a black man from Ferguson, Missouri, were murdered by police officers. These two men most definitely were not the only two black men killed by police officers in that year, but for the purpose of my talk, I will primarily use them as my examples. The deaths of these two men brought controversy, strife, sadness, and pain to most of America, but most importantly, the African American Community. In response, a movement titled “Black Lives Matter” roared throughout the country. Like I said before, this movement did not simply start because of the death of two black men. This movement was unleashed after hundreds of years of inequality, whether we think in terms of slavery, Jim Crowe, mass incarceration, or police brutality. Beliefs, aggression, and feelings were building up.
Now I will get into my artifact…
So, this flag was produced around the time Black Lives Matter was growing in popularity, and naturally, people believed Blue Lives Matter was a countermovement in relation to BLM. In fact, this flag was created after the deaths of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn, New York in December of 2014, and its popularity has been growing ever since. According to the New York Times, the killer “was angered about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.” These were not the only murders of police officers in this country, just like Michael Brown and Eric Garner were not the only black men murdered. But I’m using them as examples. Just to give you an idea of the scale, “Shooting deaths of law-enforcement have spiked 78 percent in the first half of this year, including a 300 percent increase in ambush-style killings,” according to a Washington Times article in 2016.
With everything going on, the police were scared. No one wanted to be a cop because it seemed that almost everyone hated the police force. Even active cops were discouraging their sons to find a career outside of law enforcement. The flag was erected to bring solidarity amongst police officers across the country. At its basic sense, the flag is a positive object; one that allows people to show pride in the men in blue. I know when I think about the police force I do not think about negative things. I mean I am a son of a cop, so I’m a little bias but I think about all of the good things my dad did in his career. I always think about this one story… It was a very early morning, after a night shift in the lower east side of Manhattan. My dad was getting in his car, sleep deprived, ready to see his kids get ready for school. On the way home, he saw two legs hanging out of the front door of a taxi cab, and then witnessed two men hovering over the body. As my dad approached, he saw the men brutally beating the cabby, and he immediately pulled his gun and screamed, “Police, don’t move!” He was able to arrest the one man, as the other fled (he was eventually caught by back-up). But what stands out most to me from this story is what the taxi driver said in court about my father. He said, “It was like he was an angel sent from God.”
But, I’m not naïve. The flag can be seen just as much as a negative symbol as a positive one. Some police officers developed a hatred for the Black Lives Matter activists. And to be frank, there are racist, incompetent, and unqualified police officers that use this flag as a means to worship their faulty beliefs. There are also police officers that utilize this flag to combat supporters of the black lives matter movement. Here’s the thing that police officers must remember: The Black Lives Matter Movement is not an organization with leaders that instruct its followers to commit crimes. It is a social movement that is alive in the hearts of many. Think about 9/11 for a second. Yes, the people who crashed into the World Trade Center were Islamic, but no, they were not a representation of all Islamic people. Similarly, the murderer of these officers discussed before cannot be seen as a representative of all BLM supporters, just as an extremist.
Sure, I am a son of a high ranking, decorated police officer, and I guess you could say that partially clouds my vision. But, I would like to think that I have a fairly neutral view of the polarizing flag. I believe it is possible to support police officers and to sympathize with the black lives matter movement at the same time. Both the blue line flag and the Black Lives Matter movement do not represent institutions or organizations. They represent feelings of pride, whether that be pride in law enforcement or pride in the lives of black Americans. It is important that we, as a society, do not allow one to segregate the other, because if we do that, then nothing can be achieved.
Mueller, Benjamin. “2 NYPD Officers Killed in Brooklyn Ambush; Suspect Commits Suicide.” The New York Times, 20 December 2014. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/nyregion/two-police-officers-shot-in-their-patrol- car-in-brooklyn.html.
Riddell, Kelly. “Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter at odds.” The Washington Times, 29 July 2016. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/jul/29/black-lives-matter-and- blue-lives-matter-at-odds/.