Texas Police Officers Make A Powerful Statement On #AllLivesMatter

Photo via @TrinityPolice Twitter
Late this spring, two Texas police officers shared a compellingly juxtaposed image via social media. Chief Steven Jones and Officer Donald Givens, both of the Trinity Police Department, stood side by side, each with an arm extended and a palm facing out. Each man's hand was lettered with the words "his life matters" and an arrow pointing inward at the other.

At first glance, it's a moving image: A white police chief and a Black officer showing solidarity, each one equal, each life equally valuable. It's little wonder the picture eventually went viral. Today, both men ended up on Fox and Friends, where they expressed surprise that their message was so resonant across the nation. During the interview, Officer Givens compelled Americans to come together and keep progressing, while Chief Jones emphasized that police can't stand behind officers who do bad things.

“However," Jones added, "the community and the nation can’t condemn every single officer just on the actions of a few.” That point is a good one. And yet, there's something off about the photo. Maybe it's that it seems to reduce racial tension to one feel-good image that doesn't actually speak to the systemic issues in our nation: Relations between Black and white police officers are not the problem; the overwhelming violence by cops against Black Americans is. The Trinity Police Department also tagged this picture with the phrase #AllLivesMatter. But it left #BlackLivesMatter off — as if acknowledging the intersectionality of minority experience with law officers isn't necessary.

In summation: Yes, this is a touching photo, if you don't think too hard about it — it's also a reductive framing of a much larger issue. And yes, it certainly makes a powerful statement. But, it's not an accurate picture of the troubles we're really facing in America.

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