A known Black Lives Matter activist Muhiyidin Elamin Moye, known by the name Muhiyidin d’Baha, was shot and killed on Feb. 6 in New Orleans, La. while riding his bike in the early morning. According to an article posted by USA Today, police spokesperson Gary Scheets confirmed that they have no more information regarding the motive or the identity(s) of the perpetrator(s). While there is little information available surrounding the specifics of Moye’s death, disrespectful Facebook reactions to the news articles that covered Moye’s story reveal many people’s attitudes toward Moye and similar activists.
Moye is best known for making headlines after attempting to take a confederate flag from a protester in downtown Charleston, S.C last year. According to The Post and Courier, Moye was arrested soon after he attempted to take the flag and charged with disorderly conduct and malicious injury to real property. After his untimely death, most major news sources covered the story, with several posting their articles onto their public Facebook pages. Comments immediately began to build up, with the usual ones wishing that Moye would rest in peace and sending condolences to his friends and family. However, as said previously, not all comments were respectful. On Fox News 61’s post, some commenters wrote, “one less terrorist”, “sh*t happens”, “who cares” and “one less troublemaker! just sayin..”
Comments like these reflect an ignorance and disrespect that’s hard to comprehend. A man has died, and someone not only thought “who cares”, but also felt that it is acceptable to convert that thought into a public post, with the hopes that others would share their feelings. Perhaps the most unfortunate part is that most of these commenters had at least one like on their disgraceful comments. Each positive acknowledgement that they receive validates their disrespect.
While some of the comments, such as “who cares” and “sh*t happens,” don’t give away much in regards to the motivation behind them, others such as “one less terrorist” and “one less troublemaker! Just sayin..” offer a few clues as to what was going through the commenters’ minds when they chose to write such things on Facebook. The Black Lives Matter Movement was met with controversy since its creation in 2013 through the the hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed African American youth, Trayvon Martin. Since then, the movement is confronted with both passionate supporters and violent opposition, with a counter hashtag, #AllLivesMatter being created.
Supporters of All Lives Matter generally defend their hashtag by saying that #BlackLivesMatter divides our nation even further, and #AllLivesMatter brings all people together, including Black Lives under the inclusive word “All.” The counter response by Blacks Lives Matter to the claim by All Lives Matter supporters can best be summarized in a quote from Fairfield University’s 2018 Martin Luther King, Jr. Convocation Speaker, known activist Angela Davis. During the Q&A that followed her address, Davis said in response to a question from a student that “only when black lives matter, can all lives matter.” Those who support the Black Lives Matter movement are not seeking to divide, but rather to draw attention to a population of people who they believe are not being treated with the same respect and equality as other Americans.
Despite the BLM Movement’s intended message of justice, they have extremists, just as do all movements. People have done many unfortunate things in the name of BLM – riots have been linked to the movement in many American cities, including Milwaukee and Ferguson and in 2016, Dallas police officers were shot and killed by someone who believed police brutality specifically targets young black men. However, the majority of people who associate themselves with the movement don’t subscribe to these incidents that were often instigated by extremists. These things have happened, and they are tragic incidents. However, they should not come to define a movement that’s original message was for justice, not for further violence, and the people who comment disrespectfully on the article about Moye’s death seem to be doing that.
First and foremost, even if these kinds of incidents did define the movement, it still wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about a death in that way. However, extremist incidents never define a movement and anyone who wants to seriously critique a movement should know to look past them, and even so, the loss of a life is never the appropriate moment for critiquing the movement that he or she subscribed to. Moye’s death should be a time of mourning and contemplation. Moreover, it should challenge Americans to rethink the consequences of our divisive culture and how to not assist in further increasing the divide.