Blue Lives & the Permanence of Racism
Cornell Law Review Online (Forthcoming)
17 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019 Last revised: 12 May 2020
Date Written: March 30, 2019
In true dystopian form, the killing of unarmed Black people by the police has sparked a national narrative about the suffering of police officers. “Blue Lives Matters” has become the rallying call for those offended by the suggestion that we should hold police officers accountable for killing unarmed Black people. According to a December 2016 poll, 61% of Americans believed that there was a “war on police,” and 68% of Whites had a favorable view of the police as compared to 40% of Blacks. Lawmakers around the country have been proposing Blue Lives Matters laws that make it a hate crime to kill or assault police officers. This strange twist of events is perverse given the social context. Why should the police be viewed as victims in need of additional protection at precisely the same moment that many have questioned their victimization of Black communities? This Essay considers this question and argues that “Blue Lives Matter” is evidence of the permanence of racism as a juridical and discursive matter in this country.
Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, sentencing, policing, race, critical race theory, police
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation