The recent deaths of police officers have spurred a legal backlash in many states, with so called “Blue Lives Matter” legislation that would qualify negative interactions with police by civilians or protesters as a hate crime. This legislation has recently come to Chicago, with a proposed expansion to the Hate Crime Ordinance which would treat crimes committed against police, firefighters and first responders as hate crimes.
Activists from Chicago have responded with #TheBluestLie Campaign (a play on Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye). The campaign has mounted a petition against the ordinance and publicizes the alderman sponsoring the bill, which include Ed Burke (14th Ward), Willie Cochran (20th Ward), Nicholas Sposato (38th Ward), Anthony Napolitano (41st Ward), Derrick Curtis (18th Ward), Christopher Taliaferro (29th Ward), and Matthew O’Shea (19th Ward).
Ashley Boyd from The Bluest Lie Collaborative says the campaign began about a month ago, at the prompting of Black Lives Matter activist Jason Tompkins, with the intention to bring as much attention to the ordinance as possible. With fellow activists, Camesha Jones and LaCreshia Birts, Boyd set out to work against the bill, “pulling together resources and networks to see what was being done.”
According to Boyd, when they realized no one was really fighting this ordinance, they began The Bluest Lie Collaborative, starting a Facebook and Twitter page to spread the news about the ordinance and the petition.
“Our goal is for Ordinance 4878 to be rescinded, to not be introduced to the city council, to be taken off the books permanently.”
The campaign has utilized multiple approaches to fight the ordinance, including having sit down meetings with aldermen, doing community outreach, going to events about police accountability and safety in Chicago, and putting forward a different perspective about what safety looks like and what police accountability means.
“Speaking for myself,” says Boyd, “safety means not being surveilled, not targeted by law enforcement, being able to speak [one’s] opinion about police violence.”
“When we talk about the police being accountable, we note that they are actively trying to avoid it. This bill is the perfect example of how they are trying to not be accountable [for their actions].”
Boyd says the petition began with a goal of garnering 1000 signatures, and having surpassed that goal, is now seeking 2000. The intention is to keep the conversation around the proposed ordinance going and make people aware that the bill could come up before the City Council at any time.
City Hall currently has the bill in postponement, so, according to Boyd, it is crucial for activists and concerned citizens to pay close attention to if and when this bill is brought back up.
Even so, Boyd emphasizes that bills like Ordinance 4878 are distractions from the larger movement.
“I hope that blue lives matter bills do not distract us so that we forget our own goals in terms of what we want in society. We still need to think of a world without police, a world that will not need the work we’re doing now, a world where black folks can be safer. This campaign is within the larger movement, and [blue lives matter bills] cannot take over mission, or what we set out to do.”
Supporters can sign the petition here.
Photo Credits: The Bluest Lie Collaborative, Tumblr