There were, as the media calls it, “clashes” between “protesters” and police in Philadelphia last night. What this really means of course is that rioters and looters wreaked wanton destruction across the city and assaulted police officers at will. By the end of the night, at least 30 cops had been hurt and one officer was in the hospital with serious injuries. A female sergeant, 56-years-old, was hit and suffered a broken leg when a truck plowed into a group of officers. Elsewhere, rioters set cop cars on fire, ransacked stores, and looted police vehicles.
The ostensible reason for this latest bit of barbarity is the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. As a video recorded by a bystander shows, Wallace was armed with a knife and approached officers after refusing to comply with their orders. This would seem to be about as lawful as police shootings get. In order to navigate around the facts that might vindicate the officers, leftists are playing their usual game of turning the focus away from the inconvenient facts and towards personal details that are not relevant to the shooting. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Ellie Rushing, for example, tells us that Wallace was “a twin, father, and son” and that his mother “begged [police] not to shoot.” These biographical notes might make the shooting sadder, but they do not make it any less justified.
Activists are also telling us that Wallace was shot “in front of his mother” and that he allegedly had a mental illness. Again, none of this has any bearing on the shooting itself. Whatever his family situation, whatever his psychological condition, all that mattered in the moments leading up to the shooting was that he was allegedly armed with a deadly weapon and charging at two police officers as they implored him to drop his weapon and surrender. I doubt that any police critic, if they were ever approached by a man armed with a knife, would stop to ask the assailant if he has children, or inquire about his most recent psych evaluation. All of the facts about Wallace’s life and family make it a great tragedy that he threw his life away, but they do not change the fact that the cops had the right and duty to protect themselves and the community.
But notice what has happened. Black Lives Matter and its allies have, in the last few months, almost entirely stopped talking about “unarmed black men” shot by cops. Until very recently, BLM would usually cherry pick only the shootings of allegedly unarmed black men to protest, which of course often meant ignoring the fact that unarmed people can still pose a lethal threat (as the Michael Brown case demonstrated). Now, suddenly, the question of whether the suspect was armed is treated as irrelevant. Even if the suspect was brandishing a weapon and apparently intent on using it, his death is still characterized as a moral outrage. The “unarmed” qualifier used to be the entire stated reason for the protest. “They shot an unarmed black man!” was the cry. Now it’s just “They shot a black man!”
But what makes the shooting troubling, outrageous, murderous, etc., is not the color of the victim’s skin but the specific circumstances of the incident, especially the actions of the suspect. If he is not presenting himself as any sort of threat, then to shoot him is wrong. If he is presenting himself as a threat, then shooting him is probably not wrong. This holds true regardless of the races of those involved. BLM pretends not to understand this distinction, and demands that you join them in their willful confusion.
It’s worth reflecting on the incredible amount of racism involved here. BLM is so desperate to find a reason to riot that they will take to the streets when armed black suspects are shot while charging at officers. They have not found enough unarmed black suspects killed by cops to satisfy their lust for destruction, which means they must start using cases that have no discernible connection to police brutality, much less racism. But they could retain an ounce of credibility, and perhaps keep up the appearance of caring about injustice, and still find dozens of opportunities to riot every year, if they expanded the scope of their outrage to include unarmed white suspects killed by cops. There are usually more of those in a given year, after all. Yet they flat out refuse to protest the killing of white people, no matter how egregious. They would rather cry out against the killing of an armed black man than an unarmed white man, like Daniel Shaver, who was shot while on his knees begging for his life.
Black Lives Matter is not in the business of protesting police brutality, and never was. That fact has just become more apparent in recent months. It is so clear now that even the most oblivious must see it, unless they don’t want to.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.