The 'All Lives Matter' and 'Blue Lives Matter' countermovements have risen and had successes in response to the highly publicised Black Lives Matter movement that swept across America to protest police brutality.
Problems and Purpose
Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter originated from Black Lives Matter as counter-movements. Like Black Lives Matter, both countermovement’s were founded as social media trends. Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter take opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement as their primary ambitions. They are motivated by the conviction that Black Lives Matter is creating more divisions rather than a solution.
Background History and Context
Black Lives Matter began as a protest against police brutality of African American citizens, first coming to prominence after the acquittal of the officer involved in the murder of Trayvon Martin, 26th February 2012. After numerous cases similar to Trayvon Martin’s murder, widespread resentment grew towards police and protests occurred across America to bring in reformations to policing and education. Consequently, some strands of society saw this movement as counterproductive and inciting violence rather than peace. A poll in 2015 found that of white people surveyed, 41% felt Black Lives Matter advocated violence and 59% of white people surveyed felt that the Black Lives Matter movement was shifting attention from the real issue of racial discrimination. In response to this movement and actions that it brought about, All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter were formed. Blue Lives Matter advocates that citizens prosecuted of attacking emergency service officers should be sentenced under hate crime laws. Blue Lives Matter’s formation was a direct response to killings of NYPD officers, killed during a Black Lives Matter rally on December 20th 2014. The movement became prevalent due to the principles of Black Lives Matter inspiring a ‘war on cops’. 2014 and 2016 saw ambush murders of police officers, as a sort of blanket vigilantly act as retribution for the killing of black citizens.
Organizing, Funding, and Supporting Entities
Although All Lives Matter was not founded to maliciously undermine the principles of Black Lives Matter, some have joined the movement as a critique of the principles of Black Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter conversely was founded in an attempt to counter rising resentment against emergency service response officers, with a high emphasis on the eradication of attacks as a result of Black Lives Matter protests. The Blue Lives Matter originated in New York, December 2014, directly after the killings of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn. Founded by Sergeant Joey Imperatrice, Chris Brinkley and Carlos Delgado, these men felt compelled to show support for officers tackling similar issues such as the death of these officers in Brooklyn. These officers attempted to found a movement that prevented similar vigilante acts occurring as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement, and attacks of emergency response units in general.
Whilst Black Lives Matter received high levels of funding, including from benefactors such as George Sorros, both Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter have struggled to gain the same levels of funding to push their movement, with their movements still being grounded in social media and activism.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
For both movements, being self-selective and having no barriers for entry has enabled both to easily achieve support. The rejection of typical structures of previous movements which have been traditionally structured top-down, towards an all-inclusive structure where selection is based on participation has eased selection. Those who have felt grievance at the hands of Black Lives Matter, whether that be through the police who lost officers due to the ambush or those who feel that the movement is causing more problems rather than solutions, are the target for selection for both Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter.
All Lives Matter as an inclusive movement has had participants from all strands of society including high ranking American politicians. U.S. Senator, Tim Scott, American Football player Richard Sherman both supported the movement, and in 2015, Hillary Clinton used the phrase “All lives matter," at an African-American church during her presidential campaign. Although a high percentage of white American citizens identify with the principles of All lives movement, the movement is not solely comprised of white citizens with significant support developing from the black community. This support includes black civil rights leaders, such as Rev. Cecil Murray, Najee Ali who alongside Earl Ofari Hutchinson have all criticized the tactics that Black Lives Matter utilize. Blue Lives Matter conversely is intrinsically inclusive of police officers, looking to protect their rights and seeking protection from events such as the ambush that led to the death of three NYPD officers in 2016. The law suit brought about against the Black Lives Matter movement for inciting a “race war”, from Sgt. Demetrick Pennie from the Dallas Police Department, although unsuccessful, highlighted those who would be included in the selection for the Blue Lives Matter. Individuals such as Sgt. Pennie would also be included in the All Lives Matter Movement. As a black officer himself, protesting against the Black Lives Matter movement as instilling a race war, he is demonstrating the values that All Lives Matter are pushing for in society, whilst also demonstrating the movement is not exclusive to white citizens.
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Public engagement is paramount to the success or failure of both movements, due to their origins in social media. The main way that All Lives Matter has engaged has been through direct action, with individuals showing support for the movement. An American Football game in Chicago, October 2016 highlighted this when an individual ran onto the pitch, dressed as a bear with the slogan ‘All Lives Matter’ on his front. This and other protests for All Lives Matter, primarily organized using various social media platforms, has been the main form of public engagement, with decisions and action being led by participants on social media.
Blue Lives Matter has had significantly different deliberation, decisions, and public engagement. After the killings of NYPD officers, the founders of the movement saw it necessary to push for change. This movement to push for ‘the Blue Lives Matter Law’ in Louisiana was brought about internally within the movement. The movement pushed the government in Louisiana to reform current laws, to make it a hate crime to attack and emergency service officer. This proved to be a progressive movement for Blue Lives Matter and the first of its kind in America. Whilst the Blue Lives Matter movement has seen some political success as a direct result of the protest, the All Lives Matter movement has had less of a success, remaining solely as a social media trend that uses direct action and individual actions such as the incident in Dallas as public engagement.
Role of Stakeholders
The role of Stakeholders in both these movements is limited. Due to the nature of both trends being orientated around social media, there is no real stakeholder, with anyone who wants to participate acting as a decision maker, in terms of organization of protests or demonstrations. Both movements heavily rely on participants acting as organizers and stakeholder.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Both Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter have been successful in mobilizing support and pushing their agendas on social media. Democratic reform was the most significant of outcome of the Blue Lives Matter movement, with legislation passed in May 2016 by Louisiana Government. This legislation made it a hate crime to directly target police, firefighters and other emergency response workers. It was authorized by Lance Harris and signed into law by Governor John Edwards. The new legislation gave assurances for the lives of the officers involved, giving added insurance that they better safeguarded when working. Blue Lives Matter impact, is limited however to the emergency services, in only giving added protection to officers. Although the legislation was an attempt to give more safeguards, there has been opposition with the suggestion that categorizing attacks on police as hate crimes, undermines having hate crime laws. This view suggests that hate crimes should be exclusive to the most heinous crimes, and not just attacks on officers.
All Lives Matter had less of an effect in contrast with multiple critiques of the movements aims. As the movement was originally countering the Black Lives Matter movement, many felt that it was unnecessary and providing more segregation that it was solving. David Goldberg reflected the view that it ‘All Lives matter’ as a movement solely reflecting views of “racial dismissal, ignoring and denial." All Lives Matter’s influence has yet to take off comparatively to Black Lives Matter, with Barack Obama arguing for the case of Black Lives Matter, ensuing that Black Lives Matter was not suggesting that no one else’s lives matter, “rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities." The general sentiment towards the All Lives Matter movement was that it undermines the work that Black Lives Matter is striving towards in having equal rights for all citizens.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Black Lives Matter that originated in 2014 has lobbied government into making progressive changes, especially within America in order to bring about greater racial equality. The countermovement’s, although having some effect in generating support, have yet to achieve the levels of success that Black Lives Matter has achieved.
All Lives Matter has been criticized as undermining Black Lives Matter and its push for racial equality. However, a poll in August 2015 demonstrated that 78% of likely American voters said that the statement ‘All Lives Matter’ was closer to their own point of view than Black Lives Matter was. Contrastingly, only 11% of the likely American voters said that Black Lives matter was closer to their opinion. In this way, though Black Lives Matter has generated unprecedented public support, there is an underlying support for the work of All Lives Matter demonstrating that although there is an underlying support for the movement that often doesn’t hit mainstream media. This gives rise to the thesis of National Identity and the Identity Politics. The Black Lives matter movement was an exposition of Identity Politics. One of the primary aims of identity Politics, is for “those who feel oppressed by and actively suffering under systematic inequalities to articulate their suffering through collective action,” which has been seen in protests through Black Lives Matter. Taylor put forward a proposition that minority rights are seen as a way of countering oppression, and societies can harm their citizens by trivializing or ignoring their cultural identities ; as Will Kymlicka suggested, there is a necessity for ‘positive discrimination’. The ideals of giving those who have been misrepresented previously founds the basis of Black Lives Matter and henceforth the basis of the counter-movement of All Lives Matter.
Many felt that their civil liberties were being misrepresented and the necessity for change was pivotal, which Black Lives Matter attempts to thwart. However, many supporters of the All Lives Matter Movement in particular could be seen to be representing the ‘national interest’. The changes that Black Lives Matter was bringing about politically was threatening the national identity of America, and its historical routes. Although there is an argument that the All Lives Matter movement is counter-intuitive to that of Black Lives Matter, it is also suggested that the movement is aiming to work collaboratively with Black Lives Matter. As exemplified with a ‘run-in’ in Dallas, where supporters of both movements met and hugged, as a sign of unity between movements demonstrating that progressive change, is the sign of national unity against the oppression being shown against certain sections of society. All Lives Matter demonstrates a show of unity with the Black Lives Matter movement in pushing for the national identity, rather than solely a movement stemming out of oppression.
As both All Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter are still ongoing trends, it is hard to analyze their success as an example of participatory politics other than that of Blue Lives Matter’s success in passing the Louisiana Bill. The implementation of new laws in Louisiana was seen as great success for supporters of Blue Lives Matter, but the conditions of the treaty has caused unrest with many critiquing the notion of having it as a hate crime. Blue Lives Matters success is dependent on the expansion of this policy and general acceptance of the bill within America, whilst All Lives Matters success will hinge on the support they continue to gain as they move forwards.
 PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Summary of National Findings" (PDF). Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. September 2015.
 Goldberg, T (2015) Why Black Lives Matter, Because All Lives Don’t Matter In America, Huffington Post, (Accessed on November 3rd 2018) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-theo-goldberg/why-black-lives-matter_b_8191424.html [DEAD LINK]
 Obama, B (2015) White House summit on criminal Justice
 Rasmussen Reports, (2015) Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter? (Accessed on December 1st 2018) http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/august_2015/black_lives_matter_or_all_lives_matter
 Heywood, A (1992) Political Ideologies, An Introduction. 5th ed. Palgrave Macmillan
 Taylor, C (1994) Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University PressExternal Links
 Kymlicka, W (1995) Multicultural citizenship. Oxford, Oxford University Press
Blue Lives Matter: https://defensemaven.io/bluelivesmatter/
#AllLivesMatter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hashtag/alllivesmatter?lang=en