Black lives matter, including officers

Before Gavin Long shot six police officers in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, he insisted that he believed in justice. 

Taking inspiration from the likes of Nat Turner and Malcolm X, Long said in a video that “Zero have been successful just over simple protesting. … You gotta fight back.” 

As a black man who had served his country in the Marine Corps — the same country that allows police to kill black men just like him — it’s easy to see why Long was angry. It’s easy to see why he felt the drive to react against police in Baton Rouge, who had just killed Alton Sterling for no reason a week before. 

But no matter how easy it is to understand Long’s frustration, we can never accept a society that reacts to senseless violence with more senseless violence.

Among the three officers Long killed in Baton Rouge was Montrell Jackson — a black police officer who’d often dealt with racism in and out of uniform. Even after his co-workers killed Sterling, Jackson pleaded with his community members, saying “don’t let hate infect your heart.” He leaves behind his newborn son — a black child that will likely grow up and confront the same tensions his father died for.

Long’s violence no doubt represents an urge by jaded Americans, especially because the United States has made little progress since the racist police-sanctioned murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012. 

But this officer shooting has only resulted in more black blood needlessly shed. The destruction of black bodies must stop.

Black lives matter. And so, the lives of black police officers matter too.