Black lives matter – if they’re taken by white cops.
But otherwise, not so much. At least not in the city of Rochester. At least not based on what’s happening, and how people are reacting.
Like yesterday, on North Clinton, at the Valero of death, where an as-yet unidentified young black man was gunned down, and passersby walked past – and over – his body, almost unnoticing, while the screams of approaching sirens wailed across the neighborhood.
That was the 1:30 murder.
The 11:30 murder was around the corner and two miles down on Clifford.
That was a 16-year-old boy.
The fourteenth killing of the year, outpacing last year’s worst-in-a-decade homicide rate by some 250 percent. And if you want to talk racial disproportionality, the lion’s share of those 14 lives stolen belonged to black men.
Like Daniel Prude, whose name we remember.
But, unlike Daniel Prude, we don’t remember their names. We don’t march in their memory. No voices are raised demanding justice for their deaths, or decrying their victimization.
Nobody is going to shut down Wegmans or the bus station for any one of them, no press releases will be sent out, no woke allies will cry crocodile tears to their loss, and no bullhorns will be shouted into at MLK Park.
And it’s not even accurate to say they will be forgotten, because they weren’t ever truly noticed.
Outside the proliferating circles of broken-hearted families and friends, experiencing the savage toll of Rochester’s violent streets, nobody much notices. The police captain with the tired eyes will say a few words, and the police union will send out a tweet, and the reporters will stand by the yellow tape, but nobody much notices.
Because those black lives don’t seem to matter.
Because community outrage is more about hatred of police than love of neighbor. Daniel Prude, truly in Rochester for less than 24 hours, is lionized and honored, while sons of the city, born and raised here, are anonymous streetside memorials of a few Remy bottles, a Virgin candle and some deflated mylar balloons. Tears are shed and lives are shattered, and friends and mothers stand and grieve, but the traffic rolls by and the pattern continues and no one stands to denounce the genocide of the streets.
It’s all background noise in the campaign to defund the police and elect the politicians and subject the people.
And so it is that, on the day of Rochester’s thirteenth and fourteenth homicides of the year, the City Council finalized plans to defund the police department and reduce its size, armaments and tactics. Get rid of officers and pepper balls and the warrior spirit. And after a year of attacking the police, with giddy reporters sending video of efforts to storm the Clinton Section police station, yesterday in broad daylight a man was gunned down just up the street. And a few blocks over, on Hudson Avenue, there are now four memorials at the very same tiny corner – one for a cop and three for neighborhood men – and anybody who’s not afraid doesn’t understand the situation.
Six months ago, at what was essentially a high school graduation party, a fight broke out and someone pulled a gun to fire into the air, which prompted at least two dozen others – mostly teenagers – to pull out their own illegal and unlicensed handguns and begin firing randomly around them, into a crowd of at least two hundred, leaving two dead, sixteen wounded and two trampled.
No arrests were ever made, no criticism was ever levied, and the only thing you heard about it again was the complaint that one of the “community leaders” who came to comfort the victims sent a picture of his middle-aged cock to a 19-year-old girl caught in the gunfire.
Where the only hope is for black lives to truly matter – to black people. The mayor – struggling for re-election with a felony indictment hanging over her head – can talk about reparations and white supremacy, and she can bring her once-stellar police department to its knees, but she can’t secure her streets. She’s holed up in a castle downtown while the streets visible from its upper floors are completely lawless, where illegal dirt bikes and illegal handguns take black lives on a regular basis.
Or, more accurately, where black criminals take black lives on a regular basis.
But so twisted is tribal identification in America today that providing cover for black criminals is more important than providing justice for black victims. The rage against white police roars across the city, while the concern for black victims and their safety is barely a whisper.
And that is wrong. Morally wrong.
And it must stop.
Black lives must matter. All black lives must matter. Including those taken by black criminals.