Cop Suggests Writing #BlackLivesMatter On A Cup Promotes 'Violence'

No, it promotes ending violence.

A spokesman for a Rhode Island police union claimed Tuesday that writing "#BlackLivesMatter" on the side of a coffee cup is part of a national trend "promoting violence against police officers."

Lt. Roger Aspinall, speaking for the Providence Fraternal Order of Police, joined a list of officials who have evoked the specter of a "war on cops" to try to discredit the activist movement. But their narrative lacks any factual basis.

Black Lives Matter advocates have repeatedly stated that they are seeking to hold cops accountable for their actions if and when they abuse their authority. There is no evidence that any violence against police has been encouraged by the movement, or even inspired by their arguments.

Aspinall's comment came when Fox News host Greta Van Susteren invited him onto her show to discuss the story of a police officer who last week had ordered a coffee from a Dunkin' Donuts in Providence and found the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter written on the side of the cup.

After calling the incident "disgraceful," Van Susteren asked Aspinall if he thought that police had "a little bit of a target on their back right now" that was created by a national "disrespect" toward police officers.

"It's a trend nationally right now," Aspinall agreed. "It's what you see with the Black Lives Matter group, promoting violence against police officers. It's a very difficult time to be in law enforcement."

While cops have repeatedly declared that they feel as if they're under attack, 2015 is actually shaping up to be one of the safest years on record for police.

According to data from the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks police deaths stretching back more than 100 years, there have been a total of 29 officers killed by non-accidental gunfire so far this year. That puts 2015 on pace for 38 total fatalities from non-accidental gunfire.

Each of these deaths is tragic, but together they represent the lowest number of police deaths due to non-accidental gunfire in decades (with the exception of 2013, which saw 31 firearms-related, non-accidental deaths, according to the memorial website).

Earlier this year, The Washington Post's Radley Balko analyzed data illustrating the rate of police officer killings per 100,000 officers in the U.S., a data set tracked by the FBI, and found that the trend is even more clearly headed downward.

According to Mark Perry at the American Enterprise Institute, who took the memorial website's data and adjusted it for America's growing population, the years 2013 and 2015 will be the safest for police in U.S. police history, when measuring non-accidental gun deaths.

"Most importantly, despite all of the sensational (but exaggerated) media hype, and despite the overwhelming (but false) public opinion, there really is no 'war on cops' in America today," Perry writes.

Nor is there any evidence that any attacks on officers have had any connection whatsoever to the national movement calling for police reform. Rather, Black Lives Matter's policy proposals to improve police practices are rooted in the elimination of violence. And suggesting that protest by black Americans is surely leading to violence is -- need we say it? -- racist.

It's understandable if cops -- or anyone else for that matter -- would prefer not to be handed a dose of politics with their coffee. But what happened to that Rhode Island officer was not "violence," by any stretch of the imagination.

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