A renewed focus was placed on the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in he was in police custody in Minneapolis. His death sparked protests and riots throughout the country. Many celebrities attended protests, but others have used social media to promote campaigns they’ve donated to in response to the unrest, including bailing out protesters who have been arrested by police, groups that seek to make calls to “defund the police” and reality and political advocacy groups for the Black community.
Celebrities from Bieber, Justin to Weeknd (B to W), some sincere and some not, recognized a marketing opportunity when they saw it. However, so did the corporate sector and, listing 73 companies, Forbes reported "numerous companies have made public statements against racism and injustice and announced donations and other displays of support since the death of George Floyd unleashed protests across the United States starting on May 26th."
It has been over a year and some municipalities, counties, and states have shifted a portion of their funding from policing to social services while others simply have increased spending on law enforcement. The responses have varied widely and though it is too soon to determine what impact (if any) all this has had on social justice or criminality, we do know that violent crime has surged nationwide.
People have noticed. Therefore, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that, in what is inarguably the most pressing issue of the day, police officers generally have not been chastened. Emboldened, possibly; chastened, definitely not. NBC reports
Police unions in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Seattle; and Syracuse, New York, have pushed back against vaccination requirements, as has the union representing state police in Massachusetts.
This week, just days after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Education Department employees must receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27, the city's largest police union told its members in an email that it would take legal action to defend their "right to make such personal medical decisions" if they faced the same requirement.
The president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, determined not to comply with the vaccine mandate advocated by the city's manager, falsely maintained "This vaccine has no studies for long-term side effects or consequences. None. To mandate anybody to get that vaccine, without that data as a baseline, amongst other issues, is a 'hell no' for us." Throughout the nation
Reluctance among officers — front-line workers whose jobs often involve extensive community contact — to get vaccinated has raised public health concerns. An outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant in a police force could also pose a risk to public safety.
"The delta variant is not like previous Covid lineages, and unvaccinated people in their 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s — meaning the ages that people are in law enforcement — are going into hospitals," said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and a co-director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development....
According to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit in Washington that tracks law enforcement deaths, Covid-19 killed more officers in 2020 than gun violence, car accidents and all other causes combined.
While it is not clear what percentage of officers across the country have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, vaccination rates for two of the country's largest departments are below the national rate.
Chicago, which has the country's second-largest force, does not track vaccinations. In Los Angeles, which has the third-largest department, 47 percent of employees had been vaccinated as of July 21.
A police spokesman said last Friday that 47 percent of New York's uniformed and civilian employees had been vaccinated.
Hotez said that "if you look at New York, in terms of vaccination rates," 79 percent of residents 18 and older have gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. That means members of the police department are more vaccine-hesitant than the general population, he said.
Police interact with the public and are "first responders," as we've been reminded repeatedly since September 11, 2001. It's time for them to act like it. However, in too many instances, they've now decided they would rather endanger lives than safeguard them. Too bad. We're the police and you're not, and we're going to do what we're going to do." If you- or they- die as a result, that's just too bad.
"Black lives matter" was the rallying cry of the protests which followed the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, yet many, if not most, police officers are determined "to serve and protect" and will do so regardless of anyone's race. For the huge number of police officers who refuse to get vaccinated, though, it's the lives not only of blacks but of all other people which they're willing to put at risk.