The daughter of a black Alabama sheriff made strong statements against the Blue Lives Matter movement and it’s causing some major controversy. Let’s analyze another political TikTok, since it seems like TikTok will just keep sharing important Black Lives Matter content until the day Trump pries it from our hands.
Gabrielle Pettway is a Birmingham teacher and the daughter of Mark Pettway, the first black sheriff in Jefferson County, Alabama. She took to TIkTok to express her views on the Blue Lives Matter movement and why she doesn’t think families of law enforcement should support it. She says “I’m not going to sit here and say Blue Lives Matter because it’s undermining the racism and corruption built into the entire Blue System”. Pettway encourages viewers to have conversations with police about how they can actively protect BIPOC people at work and encourage them to share pro-BLM content online.
A common point of the anti-blue lives matter movement is that Police choose their dangerous career path, whereas BIPOC don’t choose to be oppressed or in danger just because of their skin color. Pettway echos this claim saying “black people are risking their lives just y being black. Given the choice I would do that again but I wouldn’t choose oppression too, why does that have to come with being black?”
The TikToks have since been deleted and her father has declined to comment publicly, but other law enforcement officers are clearly upset by the posts and are letting the whole work know their feelings. A former investigator who worked with Pettway’s father told local news “it’s just really disappointing that a daughter would say that when her dad has walked the streets, faced the danger, and depended on his brothers to support him and back him up”. A facebook user also commented “this child obviously lacks any insight or gratitude into her family’s position as part of the Law enforcement power structure in Jefferson County”.
A lot of people in the policing community feel like she’s turning her back on the group her family belongs too. However, it should be mentioned that she doesn’t say anything about defunding the police. Instead she’s talking about improving police departments, which can be seen as a pretty supportive stance in this Blue Lives Matter conversation.
Some question the legitimacy of Pettway’s points, as one user commented “doesn’t the fact that her dad is the sheriff and she is a teacher kind of hurt the systemic racism argument?” to which someone replied “Obama became the president. That still did not end systemic racism, they’re not mutually exclusive”. To this we’re just going to say, her dad was the county’s first black sheriff … in 2018 … so if your argument is a black sheriff proves there’s no racism, take a step back and look at the struggle it took us to get there.
Some comments do agree with her however, one user said “there are no blue lives. It’s a job, which makes it a voluntary choice. It’s a blue uniform that comes off at the end of the day”.
Gabrielle did make a public response in a statement to her facebook on Monday evening. She says she knows her opinions would not have been heard without her father’s job, saying “I understand i could have made these statements three years prior, when no one knew my family’s name … i would just be another black woman on social media whining…because of my family’s status people are listening to me. This is called privilege”. She thanks black lives matter activists and then comments on the privilege mentioned in her TIkTok, saying it’s “the privilege that comes from not being seen as a threat” and she references how BIPOC are always viewed as a danger by police. Pettway ends the post with “I can be proud of my dad’s accomplishments and still recognize that we have work to do. My cry is that the officers be held accountable. My radical message is that all citizens should be looked at and treated the same”.
There is still a lot of backlash around her TikToks and her involvement in the law enforcement community. It’s important to remember not everyone in law enforcement have exactly the same viewpoints, and we hope people take time to listen to and understand where she’s coming from with her unique perspective.