Detroiter to Finley: Yes, All Black Lives Matter

By Denzel McCampbell

News sources are supposed to act as a tool for the public to get the complete story. But, what happens when those who influence and write the news do not present the complete truth on issues?

For those who do not know, Nolan Finley is the Editorial Page Editor for the Detroit News. He makes his living writing opinion pieces on a wide range of issues that affect Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the country as a whole. He also routinely has a conservative tilt to his pieces. We all should have some type of pause while absorbing information from the editorial page of any news agency, but we should also expect the editor of that page to write about issues with some type of complete truth.

Recently, Finley wrote a piece questioning whether all black lives matter to those in Detroit. First off, there is much to be said about the absurdity in a white man using his power and position to call out those in a city, with a population that is more than 80% black, about whether they care about the lives of other black people in that city. But, that can be the focus for another time.

Finley speaks about the recent uprising against police brutality and violence towards black people in particular. He mentions the Black Lives Matter movement and notes that many in the movement reject those who use terms that indicate that all lives matter (for example: #AllLivesMatter). He then goes on to say, “But from the way we shrug off the everyday killing in Detroit, it’s hard to make the case that all black lives matter.”

It would be interesting to know whom Finley is talking about when he says, “the way we shrug off the everyday killing in Detroit…”

To Finley’s credit (or maybe not) his piece is not all from a white man’s perspective, he did quote the chief of Detroit Police, James Craig, who is black, to back up his claims and to say, “When a white cop shoots a black male, that’s big news… But other murders, like the little girl who was shot while riding her bicycle in her neighborhood last year, get ignored. That’s the tragedy in the narrative.”

Not only do we have a leader in the news industry drawing out a false narrative, but we also have the chief of Detroit Police adding to the claim that Detroiters ignore certain types of violence in their city.

Finley and Craig fail to note a couple of things in their “analysis.” First, the Black Lives Matter movement was not born out of the need to call out every type of violence committed toward black people. It primarily exists to fight against and get rid of the system that allows police (and authoritative members of society) to commit violence against unarmed black people with little to no recourse, as we’ve seen with Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, and Natasha McKenna, to name a few. The fact that there is a need to rally and protest against the people who are supposed protect and serve at the will of the people should anger Finley and Chief Craig.

Second, it seems that they’ve seemed to have conveniently forgotten about the various individuals and groups that speak out against violence in the city. Where’s the mention of the effort by the Mothers Against Murdered Children to go to Washington to lobby lawmakers to take a stand against gun violence? Or when community volunteers (and sexual assault survivors) took action to canvass neighborhoods to help capture a suspected rapist? And last but certainly not least, did Chief Craig have temporary amnesia about the situation where city residents rejected his proposal of a Draconian curfew around the Detroit River Days and instead took it upon themselves to keep things fun and enjoyable for all?

Third, it is sad to see thought leaders in this city use their voice to alienate and condemn efforts that seek to achieve a climate that values people. Issues in the city such as the water shut-offs, failing school systems, massive foreclosures, and inadequate assistance for those who are impoverished, lead to many stresses that have been well-documented to cause crime. Why are we not seeing opinion pieces on solutions for those problems?

Finley dropped the ball on this one and Chief Craig was close by with the assist. Crime is surely a problem in the city of Detroit and to say that there are some who do not care about the loss of other lives is insensitive at best. I would hope that Nolan Finley knows better. It’s time for him to do better and speak out against all injustices that affect Detroiters and call for solutions, instead of belittling the efforts of those who are actually trying to enact positive change.