Last week, a policeman ordered a box of doughnuts from Krispy Kreme in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Upon receiving the box, he saw an unpleasant message scribbled in permanent marker: “Black Lives Matter.”
Many Americans might not think twice about such a message; police rightly suspect it may be akin to a threat.
“While it is clear this behavior was egregious in nature, Krispy Kreme did take responsibility for the incident,” Louis Defense, spokesman for the Smyrna Police Department, said in a statement. The department said it had received a letter from Krispy Kreme, a corporation based in North Carolina, apologizing for the incident.
“We have offered our sincere apologies to the Smyrna Police Department and addressed the matter at the shop,” the statement read. “Furthermore, we will use this opportunity to train the staff at all of our US shops to reinforce mutual respect between employees and customers.”
— Ben Brasch (@ben_brasch) January 12, 2017
The Blue Lives Matter blog found this apology “disgraceful.” The blog also explained why the “Black Lives Matter” message would be considered so offensive: “For those who are not aware, this is extremely disrespectful to law enforcement. Ever since Officer Darren Wilson was forced to defend his life by shooting Michael Brown, Black Lives Matter has been spreading misinformation and lies about police which have resulted in the assassinations of police officers.”
Indeed, the Black Lives Matter movement has pushed discredited narratives — like the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” myth — and denounced certain cases as unjust despite evidence and findings to the contrary. Specifically, in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the FBI report backed up Officer Darren Wilson’s story that he killed Brown in self-defense. Nevertheless, politicians like Barack Obama and news outlets like The New York Times emphasized racism as the cause behind the shooting, covered the city of Ferguson as if it was driven by racism, and justified the resulting anger at the justice system.
Such anger has arguably propelled many shootings of police officers in recent years. Perhaps the most notorious occurred in July 2016, when Michael Xavier Johnson shot twelve police officers, killing five. In a standoff with police, Johnson said he was upset by recent police shootings and “wanted to kill white people.”
This ugly racist element has emerged in multiple Black Lives Matter protests, which have indeed degenerated into riots. During those riots, white people have been targeted for the color of their skin. Some Black Lives Matter graffiti also included the slogan “Kill white people.” A man claiming to be the brother of Keith Lamont Scott, a black man killed by a black cop in Charlotte, declared, “All white people are f***in’ devils!”
In October, three police officers were shot in Palm Springs, Florida. Two died. Black Lives Matter protesters have chanted “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!” Last November, protesters in Austin, Texas, chanted, “What’s better than 14 dead cops? 15 dead cops.” When Cuban dictator Fidel Castro passed away last year, a Medium account called “Black Lives Matter” praised the dictator — because he provided refuge to cop killers fleeing charges in the U.S.
Given this history, the “Black Lives Matter” message on Krispy Kreme doughnuts is extremely offensive, and even carries echoes of “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon!”
Was Krispy Kreme’s apology sufficient? What steps can restaurants take to emphasize their support for police, in the wake of this movement? And how can police demonstrate that black lives really do matter to them? In a time when Chicago cops are blaming the Black Lives Matter movement for the alarming uptick in violence plaguing that city, these questions urgently need answering.