Message is ‘All lives need to be honored’
After Aimee Budrow organized a rally in Twisp to show support for police, she was jazzed. “There was such a great showing of community support” at the June 16 event, she said.
But “the second one was even better, because people from the Black Lives Matter movement were there,” said Budrow, who attended a second rally organized by others in the community just 11 days later. “We had really respectful conversations — it was heart-warming.”
“All viewpoints need to be heard. That’s the great thing about our valley,” Budrow said. Aimee and her husband, Paul, Twisp’s police chief, support both sides, Aimee said. “There are all different opinions from a place of mutual respect. All lives need to be honored and respected,” she said.
It was wonderful to see the vast number of people honking and waving as they drove through town during the rallies, she said.
The first police rally in Twisp drew about 50 people, who held signs reading “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter.” One held a placard listing the 107 police officers who’ve been killed on the job in 2020 alone.
The second Blue Lives Matter rally on Saturday (June 27) drew about 25 people. A dozen Black Lives Matter activists showed up to voice their views. The groups lined up on opposite sides of Highway 20, but some crossed the street to talk, Aimee Budrow said. Budrow said she didn’t see it as a counter-protest.
Budrow and the other demonstrators wanted to bring attention to the number of police officers who’ve died this year. Violence against officers has increased since demonstrations have swept the country in reaction to the murder of George Floyd, she said.
“Our message is, the work they do — day in and out, often without thanks — needs to be supported,” Budrow said. It’s especially important in small towns where officers often respond to calls alone, putting them at greater risk, she said.
What seems like a statement that no one could argue with — “All Lives Matter” — has in fact become a flashpoint in some circles.
Black Lives Matter activists say the slogan ignores the centuries of violence and institutionalized racism against Blacks in the United States.
Darcy Ottey, a founder of the Methow Valley chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, offered some context. “All lives matter — absolutely,” Ottey said. “But it doesn’t appear to be true that Black lives matter.”
Saying “Black Lives Matter” doesn’t mean that Black lives are more important than all other lives, Ottey said. Instead, it aims to expose the ways in which Black people’s lives are undervalued, and works to end that inequity.
Budrow makes the same point. “Just because we say ‘police lives matter’ doesn’t mean that Black lives don’t matter,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that saying ‘all lives’ detracts from the other cause. Every single human life matters.”
Some say that the Blue Lives Matter movement conflates a profession with a social identity that defines someone’s life 24 hours a day.
But Budrow says a police officer never takes off the badge. Officers take an oath to serve whenever and wherever they’re needed and are required to intervene. Individual officers may be targeted by people in the community who may even know where the officer lives, she said.
Since she posted photos of the rally on social media, Budrow has heard from police officers in other areas who were encouraged to see a small town come together in support of law enforcement.
People in the local social-justice movement and backers of police hope to build on that spirit. Working with law enforcement on violence prevention and to teach de-escalation skills was one of the goals to emerge after the initial Black Lives Matter rally in Winthrop.
A Black Lives Matter activist at Saturday’s police rally talked to Budrow about convening a group from the community to work together on these issues and to build relationships. Budrow said she looks forward to working with the group.