Since the shooting deaths of two black men at the hands of police officers and the ambush killings of five white police officers last week, protests, vigils, and some violent riots have unfolded nationwide. While demonstrations have been peaceful in Peoria, social media has not.
Facebook lit up this past weekend. Comments poured in as people made their opinions on the “Black Lives Matter” movement clear.
“I do think that they [the Facebook comments] are troubling,” said Mayor Jim Ardis.
“People are not talking to folks that don’t necessarily look like them. They’re engaging in a lot of Twitter and Facebook battles,” added Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-92).
Here’s a look at a few comments that flooded in on Sunday during the Black Lives Matter event in Peoria on Sunday:
• More white people get shot by police! The difference is white people dint [don’t] throw a fit about it!
• If you support Black lives matter you are racist and helping divide the country! All lives matter!
• So many negative and closed minded people…..itmakes me sick….if u don’t get it by now u never will #blacklivesmatter
• Why can’t you negative people just be proud that these people are exercising their right to protest peacefully???? It is a right we share as free americans!!!! I support them all the way.
There were more than 200 other comments.
“Regardless of who killed who, pain is universal. It’s real and it’s now on both sides,” said Rep. Gordon-Booth. “We have to remain unified if we want our communities to be strong and have the ability to flourish because communities divided, fall!”
She said the simple social media hashtag was not created to start a fight.
“What they’re saying is that black lives matter, too or black lives matter also, or black lives matter as well. [They’re] not saying that black lives are any more important than anyone else’s but I think what they are saying that black lives aren’t any less important than anyone else’s.”
WMBD’s Marvis Herring also spoke to Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis on Tuesday. He’s on board with the movement and cast down the “All Lives Matter” alternative. He also said that there should be a comparison between the hashtag black lives matter and the KKK.
“I think that the “black lives matter” is extremely relevant and I don’t think it’s a racist statement,” said Mayor Ardis. “I think people are getting a little bit hung up. Nobody said black lives more than anybody else’s.”
In a time where our country’s racial divide seems to be widening, both Ardis and Gordon-Booth believe that people need to reinforce that black lives are equal to all others.
“People don’t need to be afraid to say, ‘you’re right black lives do matter’,” said the mayor.
“The fact of the matter of it is there’s a great deal of anger out there. Individuals are tired of waking up every day and seeing men, whether it be for having skittles, an iced tea, selling a CD, selling a loose cigarette going for their license an ID people are tired of seeing them killed on video and nothing happening,” Rep. Gordon-Booth said. “People are tired of abject violence and seeing police officers who are trying to protect and serve the community and trying to provide an environment so that a peaceful protest can happen. For them to not be able to go home to their families; it’s unacceptable.
The mayor invited a local pastor to say a prayer for the city and nation at Tuesday’s council meeting.
He said the Peoria Police Department is doubling efforts to improve community relations.