Why #BlackLivesMatter Activists are Protesting and Shutting Down Highways

Some might wonder why Black Lives Matter activists are protesting, doing marches, and sitting in large groups across major highways and Interstates to stop traffic (only to have the police show up and start arresting people if they don’t move).

I’d like you to put yourself in the shoes of a parent.  If you are a parent, this will be easy to do.  Here’s a photo of me and my girls, who I love dearly:

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Your child gets shot and killed.  Your child was unarmed.  The person who killed your child faces no criminal charges and walks free.

How do you feel?

Take a deep breath, put yourself in these shoes, and ask yourself how

you

would

feel.

Now I know some who have been following Black Lives Matter and the many shootings of unarmed black men across our country will now start to ask, “Yeah but they committed crimes…they deserved to be shot…”

Your child was unarmed.  What crime done by an unarmed individual deserves instant death in our judicial system?

There’s a big debate in America about the death penalty.  Should a person be sentenced to death who killed someone?  Last I checked, there was not a debate about if someone should be sentenced to death for selling cigarettes on the sidewalk, shoplifting, having a tail light out, etc.

Your unarmed child was shot and killed and the person who killed them faces no criminal charges.  How do you feel?  Would you feel warm and fuzzy toward our judicial system?  Would you feel warm and fuzzy toward the person who shot them?  Would you “cooperate”?

You wouldn’t.

You would protest.

What if your child’s death was caught on video?  And millions of other parents witnessed it with their own eyes?  Maybe they’d protest with you?  Especially because they know their child might be next.  Because child after child after child have been dropping this way for hundreds of years in America.

Black-Lives-Matter-shut-down-highwayLook, I’m going to be real with you.  As a white guy who grew up in the suburbs, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of getting a big group of people together to block an Interstate, while holding “Black Lives Matter” banners.  Knowing the police are going to show up.  Knowing roads can’t be blocked like this.

So why do people do this?

Because their unarmed children have been killed and the killers face zero consequences. 

Over and over and over again.

It’s easy to look at these protests and ask, “What do they think they are accomplishing?  Why are they causing more conflict?”

Sadly, this is the only way people can get the system’s attention.  And guess what?  It’s working.  It’s been working since the days of Martin Luther King.  You can have meetings with the mayor and Chief of Police, these things happen and are helpful, but nobody really cares about meetings.  But people do care if they can’t use I-94 in St. Paul or the 405 Freeway in LA.  They might make changes in order to get you to stop doing these things.

If your unarmed kid was shot and killed and their killer was walking free, you’d probably want to get someone’s attention too.

What Black Lives Matter activists want is justice.  They want killers, whether these are police officers or the guy down the street, to go to court and to be given a judicial punishment for killing if proven guilty.

Do all cops who kill people in the line of duty deserve to be punished?

No.  That’s not what Black Lives Matter is protesting.

Police have a very hard job to do and sometimes their lives are in danger and they have to take lethal action.  But other times, many of which have now been caught on video, their lives are not in danger in the least and they take lethal action, and it just so happens this is usually against black men.  Many many many police officers are amazing public servants who would never do something like this; but there are some who would and who do.  And this group needs to be held accountable: for the sake of the good police officers, for the sake of the victims and future victims, and for the sake of the integrity of our American judicial system.

Are there some within Black Lives Matter who are anti-police?  Yes.  Is everyone involved or around Black Lives Matter guilt free in their attitudes or actions?  No.  Are there some who put on a Black Lives Matter t-shirt or grab a BLM banner and say or do hateful things toward police?  Yes.  And do these outliers who are committing violence or encouraging violence toward police need to be held accountable?  Yes.

Just like there were many black activists in the 60’s who did acts of violence that Dr. King had to continually distance himself and his cause from.  One of the problems with the Black Lives Matter movement is that there isn’t a centralized Dr.King-like figure who can do this sort of distancing with authority.

There are likely some within the official BLM movement who want to commit violence against police, but no one is really in control over who is in the official group and who has just grabbed a t-shirt and started talking.  Those who want violence are the outliers and not the core of the movement.  The core of the movement is simple: that black lives matter.

The outliers don’t negate this core principle.

The core principle that your kid matters.

And that it matters that your unarmed kid got shot and the person who shot them never even had to go to trial.

If people across the nation started protesting that your kid got killed while their killer walked free, would this injustice be nullified if some nuts bent on violence acted out at one of these protests for your kid?  Of course not.  The need for protest would still be there until your child’s killer was brought to trial.

As many headaches as Black Lives Matter protests may be causing, they’re working.  They are making changes in the judicial system, though there is still a long way to go.  Expect the protests to only intensify until more changes are made and the police officers who do these shootings are held accountable.  This doesn’t mean they are all thrown in jail or killed or presumed guilty, it just means they are set before an unbiased jury of their peers and when they took a life when no need for taking a life was given, they are punished according to the American judicial system’s laws.

If this doesn’t happen, then that kid who got killed, your kid, really didn’t matter.

I can’t imagine what I’d do if one of my girls got shot and killed and our judicial system didn’t care:

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But my kids are white, so that’s something I’ll never really have to worry about.

#AllLivesMatter when #BlackLivesMatter

 

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19 responses to Why #BlackLivesMatter Activists are Protesting and Shutting Down Highways


  1. Noah- I agree people have a right to protest and they should over some of the things happening in our country right now. But since you used your children as an example here, I will use me. I teach my children that 2 wrongs do not make a right. If they feel something needs to be protested because it was wrong or illegal, it is NOTacceptable to break laws while protesting. Shutting down major interstates and roads as a form of protest is not just illegal, it’s inconsiderate to the thousands of other people who are in no way connected to the wrongdoing. In St. Paul, MN just the other day (which is my neck of the woods by the way) protestors marched to demonstrate against the killing of a black man who was pulled over and when he told the officer he had a firearm and was reaching for his license was shot multiple times and killed.( It was a horrible incidentbut we still dont know what actually happened before his girlfriends recording started so until thats known, I do not condone jumping to conclusions which has absolutely happened). These protestors started off peaceful but eventually marched onto I-94 and shut it down. As the police tried to negotiate with them they started throwing explosives, rocks and glass bottles at them. One officer was hit in the head with a 25 pound rock which was thrown off of a nearby overpass resulting in a fractured vertebrae in his neck. (Luckily he was not killed!!) The entire time this was happening the protestors were hurling vulgar and racially charged slurs at these officers who were of all different races. Now I ask you Noah, even if it was your unarmed child who was shot and killed by abother person, as awful and horrendous as that is, what gives you the right to protest like these people protested the other night and injure another human being in the process all in the name of “justice”? That’s the problem with so many BLM matters protestors; they turn violent. And the sad part is the majority of those violent ones, when asked details about the events they are protesting, can’t even tell you what they are aside from what they are seeing others on social media saying. And so often those social media posts are not anywhere close to being accurate. I believe a large portion of BLM participants have pure motives and protest the way they should and follow the laws in the process. But more and more of them, at least around the Twin Cities, are turning violent.

    Is there racial tension in this country? ABSOLUTELY! But do people have the right to break the law when they protest even if they are protesting a legitimately bad action? Absolutely not, and I do not think we as believers should come anywhere close to condoning this. Coming full circle back to our children, I teach mine the principals of Romans 12:19. I tell them if you are wronged, remove yourself from any immediate danger and report what needs to be reported. But leave the justice to the Lord. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord'”. And as believers Noah, we can be assured that God’s vengeance is coming in short order with the state our world is in today.

    I absolutely enjoy reading your posts but I’ve seen a lot of believers starting to condone these violent protests, which really saddens me, and I sensed some of that in your post. If not, then just take my response as me sharing my thoughts! But if that’s some of what you’re feeling, we as believers need to be denying ourselves daily and picking up our cross and following Jesus; even if that means believing with all our heart that we should be repaying someone for a wrong done but then giving that over to the Lord and responding in a godly way. God’s blessings on you brother as we fight against the enemy togthere today.


    • Hi Paul, thanks for all your comments. I just got back in town from a retreat so I’m getting caught up. Heading to bed, but will erase this comment and dive into your stuff tomorrow morning and reply to it.


  2. And by the way, I do agree withat you that there are some very bad cops out there who need to be held accountable for their actions. There are absolutely racist cops who would, and have, shot and killed black men just because of the colornofntheirnskin and those cops are not only not in jail today, but they are still working behind the badge. This is absolutely an outrage and needs to be changed. But I’m simply saying that even if it seems that violent protests (and yes, closing down a major freeway is a former of violent protest) are the only way things can change, that does not give us the right, especially as believers, to take that route.

    Hope I am making some sense. 🙂


    • One last thing- I’m doing this on my phone so I apologize for the few typos and “run on words” I see above. And yes, people who break the law, icluding cops, need to be put through the judicial system, even as broken as it currently is. If the system fails (which it seems to more and more lately) that’s when we can’t turn violent and use that as an excuse to take the law into our own hands. We need to find ways to fix it. People need to run for local offices, form governmental watchdog groups that really do hold government officials accounttable and publicly call them out when they are wrong; things like that. I ran for local office here in the Twin Cities and won. But it helped me see how government really works behind the scenes (including law enforcement), and it’s legitimately scary. It made me realize that as a society, we are pretty screwed until Christmas returns!

      I’m done now. 🙂


  3. Hey my goodness- CHRIST returns; not Christmas. Wow.


  4. I don’t remember seeing you get fired up when DevenGuilford was murdered by Eaton Deputy Jonathon Frost right in your area. Deven was a white Christian kid, unarmed with no prior criminal history. Michael from Ferguson Mo had just pulled off a strong arm robbery of a mom and pop convenience store.

    I agree that too many people are unlawfully killed bycops and get away with it. To focus on the black portion of society and ignore all the whites killed is just foolish and creates racist issues where there were none.

    More whites then blacks are killed by cops and 80% of black homicides are committed by black perpetrators. Let’s focus on that problem just a bit more.


    • Hi Anonymous, I hear your heart on this, but it’s not foolish to focus on the black deaths because there is a history of this in our country, and there simply isn’t a history of it against whites. The white deaths are isolated cases whereas the black deaths are a trend, that is a significant difference. I wrote an article which I hope you will read that I hope helps clarify some of this in an approachable way: http://www.atacrossroads.net/4-essential-points-misunderstood-by-whites-in-the-blacklivesmatter-movement/

      You’re also missing my point from the article. It’s not that black people are getting killed by police officers, it’s that the police officers are not going to trial for these deaths. They are able to kill at will with no accountability. In black on black homicides, those perpetrators are going to trial, there is not injustice there. I hope you can see the specificity of this point because it really is the crux of the protests.


      • “The white deaths are isolated cases whereas the black deaths are a trend…”
        Unfortunately the data is not conclusive on that matter. There are studies showing that white men are actually more likely to be killed by police in similar situations than black men and also studies showing the exact opposite. The overall lack of reliable data out there is frustrating for those of us who like to use rational thought rather than just base our opinions on popular news stories and viral videos.

        Police brutality is definitely an issue but I’m not sure its as racially biased as it is often portrayed. The white police officers I know all say that they would be far more hesitant to pull the trigger if the suspect was black (especially recently) but of course that’s not really something you can accurately simulate or predict.


        • The difference that is causing the protests is that these white police officers aren’t held accountable when these deaths happen. Most of the time they don’t even go to court, and when they do, they are usually let off. I’m not sure if that happens or not when a white unarmed person gets killed by a police officer, but I know that it really hits a nerve when it happens to a black person because of our nation’s real history of unchecked police brutality against blacks and/or a total blind eye to violence against blacks – talking about lynching, beatings, all sorts of stuff. Whites like to say “well that’s our past, don’t dwell on it” and older blacks say “that was my childhood!” or my parents’ or grandparents’ lives / childhoods.

  5. Lee Bergakker July 11, 2016 at 4:09 pm


    I agree with the general premise of what you are saying here as I usually do when you are talking about race but there’s something you said that I hear a lot and take issue with. I think this quote sums it up best. “Last time I checked there is not a debate about whether someone should be put to death for selling cigarettes on the street.” You are referring to Eric Garner of course and what you are saying is that yes people like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, etc were guilty of a crime but their crime didn’t warrant the death penalty. That of course is true and even if their crimes did deserve the death penalty, no crime ever deserves the death penalty without due process.

    No one (at least no one who is intelligent) is saying that any of these men deserved to die for their crimes. They are saying that the killing was justified. There’s a difference a difference between deserved and justified. The cops are (or at least are claiming to) pull the trigger not as a sentence for a crime but to defend their own safety. So the assertion is not that the killing is justified as a fair punishment for a crime but because it was done out of self defense. Just like if I’m a soldier and I kill an enemy soldier. That enemy soldier didn’t deserve to die, he’s doing his job but his death is justified because it is combat and I’m protecting myself and my fellow soldiers.

    Rightly or wrongly, the claim is that these killings are justified but not that they are deserved.
    We could eliminate these killings, by saying that no killing is justified or that it’s only justified if there is incontrovertible evidence that someone is trying to kill them, but who would sign up to be a cop then?


    • Thanks Lee, that is a good point and a fair point and I appreciate you bringing it in. I’m going to keep my sentence the way I have it because I like the provocative nature of it (getting people to think), while agreeing that you bring up a very important distinction. I read a good article on that today, can’t remember where, but it was about the Alton Sterling killing, that the cops who shot him said he was armed and reaching for his gun so they felt threatened–by law, they are legally allowed to kill him in that moment. But then of course the witnesses said he was not reaching for his gun, and man those videos are hard to see but it did not look like he was reaching for a gun. All that to say, that’s the exact type of thing that needs to go to trial so that lawyers, a judge and jury can work all that out. I’m not saying we should throw the cops in jail who killed Alton Sterling, but they should go to trial and if guilty of just killing a guy who had a gun on him (which is a part of our Constitution as we all know), then yes those cops should go to jail, some would say for “murder.” That’s a heavy word that I’ll leave up to a judge to use, but I know my black friends use that word and I want to respect that as well. But definitely should be punished by law for that crime. Anyway, my point to all this is that so often in the past the cops never even go to trial, the case just gets thrown out because “oh it’s a cop so they could never do anything wrong” — that’s what I hope changes in our country because I don’t think that’s good for anyone.

      Thank you Lee, I appreciate you!


  6. Civil disobedience breaks the law to make its point, but the integrity of civil disobedience is that you are willing to bear the punishment for acting against the law. Somehow hundreds are allowed to illegally block an interstate and only a minority are arrested. All who blocked the highway should have been arrested. Those who assaulted and injured police should be imprisoned. Until protestors and rioters act with integrity, they have no point worth listening to.


    • Hi Nick G., this might surprise you and other readers, but I agree with everything you said (with the exception of your last sentence). I do think the people blocking the highway should be arrested, that’s definitely illegal. If I were going to protest at one of the highway marches, I would definitely just go in expecting to be arrested. I’d be consciously breaking the law, but would be doing so for a higher purpose, a purpose these protestors feel is definitely worth being arrested for. And as far as those assaulting and injuring police, that really angers me. I feel they are ruining this entire movement by those actions. I want a Dr. King-like figure to stand up with authority and distance the real movement from those violent actions. Yes those people assaulting and injuring officers need to be imprisoned.

      The reason I say I don’t agree with your last sentence is because the point is truth and is worth listening to. What stinks is there are some people doing violence, etc. who are discrediting the movement, but the point of injustice in our system stands and needs to be heard. I hope we can sift out the truth of injustice from the outliers doing the violence.


      • You’re right Noah, I overreached on my last statement. You’re right about having a leader too. Seems like until then BLM will be an umbrella for good and bad. Wall Street protests fizzled for lack of leaders and focus.


  7. Unbelievable that you would justify causing hundreds of people to be forced to spend hours stuck in their cars on an interstate in the middle of the night. Where’s your empathy for them? Or are they just collateral on the altar of BLM issues? What if there was a diabetic needing his insulin? What if there was a doctor needing to get to the hospital? What if there was a stressed out single mom needing to get her kids to bed? What if an abused girlfriend has to spend hours locked in with her boyfriend who has anger issues? But I guess the people in the cars don’t matter as much. The problem with the protest is that only black lives mattered. There’s nothing noble or righteous or loving or harmless about what BLM did to other people that night.


    • Hi Justin, I’m not justifying blocking the highway, I tried to be careful in how I wrote the article because I’m not sure how I feel about blocking a highway, for all the reasons you mentioned. But I definitely justify the reason to protest as the protestors know this will bring about legislative change. This is why I titled the article “Why BLM activists are protesting…” — I wanted to show the answer to that why question, not if their tactics were blessed by me or not. We may not like it, but the truth is, this type of drastic protest will bring about legislative change, which in the long run will help a lot of people. My intent in the article was to put white people like myself in the shoes of someone who has experienced injustice at the hands of our legislative system, and what we might do about it. If it was my kid or your kid, we might do something even more drastic to get people’s attention, who knows? I think the blocking of highways is a natural result of ignoring an injustice for a very long time. People can only be ignored for so long.


      • I’ll admit I wasn’t plugged into this issue until all the shootings over the last few years. Most of my friends weren’t either. It wasn’t even the protests as much as it was seeing the videos. The protests helped bring notice to it, but I’m hoping even if there wasn’t any protests we would still see the injustice having seen the videos. I’m on the east coast in an urban area and maybe I’m misreading it, but not many people here consider that these confrontations between police and black men need to end in death; the cops could have done and should do more that would leave suspects alive. I guess I’m saying the narrative now is blacks are getting a raw deal and have been for awhile. Protests shutting down highways causing real life-and-death problems like Paul mentions below may be counter-productive at this point. Why not target legislators directly if it’s legislative changes that are needed?
        I agree with everything in your post, and your kids are really cute BTW, my point was simply if you’re going to base your argument on empathy, that empathy should extend to the people forced to be stuck on the highway.


  8. The scene we had yesterday here in Minneapolis where a group of white protesters shut down !-35W during the height of the morning rush hour in solidarity with BLM is another good example of how this type of protest doesn’t work. During the 2 hour complete shut-down of one of the busiest stretches of freeway in the metro area, a dad called into a local radio station in tears while he was stuck in the back up saying that he had to get his son to Children’s Hospital for surgery and they were completely stuck in the grid-lock and he was in a panic for his son’s health and that they would not make it to the hospital in time. Then not long after that call, a medical courier called in and said he had a cooler with a human organ in it that he was delivering to a downtown hospitals operating room where a surgical team was waiting for it while the patient was IN SURGERY on the table.

    Protesting in this manner does nothing but turn others against the cause the protesters are fighting for and damages any progress on the issue thats been made up to that point. With the Philando Castille issue here in the Twin Cities, the facts have not come out as to what led up to the shooting yet. We saw the aftermath on the Facebook live broadcast that his girlfriend made and now the letter that his family has produced saying that Philando qualified for a permit to carry. But yet we still have people without ALL the facts protesting by shutting down major freeways and then throwing concrete blocks on the responding officers heads and fracturing the vertebrae in their necks.

    You’re a brother in Christ Noah and I love your ministry. But on this issue, I think you should take a look at the bigger picture and still work towards bringing reconciliation between people but at the same time, not condone this type of protesting. I’m so glad we know that God wins in the end! 🙂


  9. “We may not like it, but the truth is, this type of drastic protest will bring about legislative change”

    My “former life” was in politics (sad to say). I can tell you that protests like what we’ve seen where they turn violent or they shut down freeways will indeed bring about legislative change but it will he legislation against this type of protedting, NOT against police brutality. We will see harsher penalties got unlawful protesting and that’s not what the protesters are aiming for. Legislators are MUCH more receptive to peaceful protests and will pay attention to the message being conveyed by large groups of people that are following the law. As soon as we break a law by protesting, we have then violated God’s law and I don’t believe he will bless whatever we are protesting. Protesters just need to keep it peaceful while being consistent in delivering their message frequently. This is what will get the attention of legislators and will bring about change.

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