blue lives matter

Three people were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 17. Because of their professional associations – the victims were Baton Rouge Police Officers — their violent deaths dominated the global news cycle, and will eventually be memorialized in a national ritual of government-mandated mourning.

Since the murders were apparently the result of an ambush, police accountability activists who protested the recent police killing of Alton Sterling were cut in for a share of the collective blame by reflexive defenders of the police. On the basis of abundant previous experience, it is likely that in the coming days the police unions and their media allies will harangue the public about what they perceive as the evils of “anti-police rhetoric” and the racial politics of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Just two days before the murders in Louisiana, three people were murdered, and one was injured, in a rampage carried out by an overtly racist man named Brent W. Luyster, who has a long history of violent crime.

Almost exactly two months earlier, Luyster had been arrested after pistol-whipping his girlfriend. Deputies who responded to a 911 call came under fire from the suspect, who had withdrawn to the woods outside his home in Longview, Washington.

Luyster had previously “been involved in a drive-by shooting and taking a motor vehicle without permission,” reports the Longview Daily News. “He’s been convicted of assault, malicious harassment, malicious mischief and theft. In 2001, Luyster and his brother Robert A. Luyster punched, kicked and beat a 45-year-old black man from Vancouver with boards. Police called the crime racially motivated.”

Eleven years ago, Luyster, in the company of two associates, hurled racial slurs at a black man in a successful effort to provoke a fight that resulted in the victim being shot. Two years ago, Luyster pleaded guilty for “rioting with a weapon” after he threatened an interracial couple at a bar, and then threatened a black man with a handgun in the street outside. Luyster “shouted a threat, got a gun from his car, put a bullet into the chamber, stepped outside and pointed the gun at people standing there,” recalled KOIN-TV. “He also allegedly threatened to kill Dontae Fielding because he was black. Fielding and two other men standing near the door, James Roberts and Andrew Rodriguez, said they all feared for their lives.”

Luyster, his brother Robert, and a man named Donald McElfish were charged with felony assault and racially motivated malicious harassment. Brent Luyster received a 90-day jail sentence.

Like others in the movement, Luyster makes no effort to conceal his white power affiliations: His body is decorated with swastika tattoos and other neo-Nazi graffiti. His ideological motivations in committing violent crimes, and opening fire on police officers, are candidly expressed and unmistakable. In the initial aftermath of the fatal shootings in Baton Rouge, the motives and affiliations of the killer (and suspected accomplices) were a matter of conjecture. One early account suggested that the fatal exchange of gunfire may have resulted from a police over-reaction to reports of citizens openly carrying weapons – rather than an orchestrated ambush that targeted cops.

The lack of reliable facts did not, and will not, prevent the “Blue Lives Matter” faction from exploiting the Baton Rouge incident to advance the “war on cops” narrative, and to demand the enactment of legislation treating law enforcement officers as a specially protected class. That is the essence of the “Back the Blue Act of 2016,” which would treat all state and local law enforcement officers as federal officials, and impose a mandatory minimum 30-year prison term for killing a police officer, as well as the death penalty in states where that sentencing option is available.

It should be remembered that the Constitution lists only three federal crimes – treason, piracy, and counterfeiting – and that murdering police officers is a serious felony offense in every state. The purpose of the “Back the Blue” act is not to rectify a deficiency in existing laws, but to impress upon the public the idea that police officers are uniquely valuable – unlike the tawdry lives of the mundane citizens they supposedly serve.

“When you think some poor people lost their lives, it’s overwhelming and you have to remind yourselves of that,” lamented Jeff Daniels, a neighbor to the people slaughtered by Brent Luyster. Those lives will not be remembered in the same way as those of the police officers killed in Baton Rouge. To the custodians of officially approved opinion, all lives matter, but Blue Lives matter most of all.

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