The sad news of Sgt Matt Ranata being fatally shot on Friday, filled my heart with sadness. To hear that anyone has been murdered is something that affects the majority of us deeply. It’s a tragedy that every day there are murders, as well as the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands. It’s something we hear about on a daily basis. I'm sure most of us are filled with sorrow, at the death of this man and extending some kind thoughts to his grieving loved ones.
Someone has died, and it has become immediately political. It inevitably would. I knew it the moment my BBC news app popped up on Friday to tell me a police officer had been shot dead. I awaited the tool this man’s death would become as a retort to the uprising against the equally tragic killing of George Floyd.
With a heavy heart I write this. With a heavy heart I yearn for a world filled with the nuance that has been lost to social media. We live in an entirely binary world, where either you support black lives matter or you support the police. Not both. One couldn’t possibly cry as the result of the death of a black man and also cry for the death of a policeman. But I do. And so do many others. In fact, I assume the majority of people are outraged by murder, whatever the circumstances.
To see posts asking people to reassess their moral compasses because the world is not responding the same way they did to the death of George Floyd about the death of Sgt Ranata, deeply saddens me. People die every single day. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. Children fleeing war-torn countries, police officers, black women, carers, financial advisors, celebrities, a homeless person, drug addicts, babies. Every day. And not each death gets the same amount of attention, of course not, there are too many factors to take into account. But to suggest that this death is any less important to anyone, because there haven’t been protests, is an abhorrent thing to imply. And, might I add, extremely misguided.
Let’s examine this closely. Let’s say there was a protest for the tragic death of Sgt Ranata. What would the people be protesting? Murder? Yes, we all disagree with murder. So why would we need a protest? The person culpable for the death of this police officer will no doubt stand trial and be duly prosecuted for his or her crime. So, what will there be to protest? The government is already doing its job in seeking justice for the death of this man. The person responsible for Ranata’s death is not a police officer themselves. Nothing that isn’t already being done, could be done. When and if the police and the government don’t do their job in bringing this person to justice, then yes, the world will stand up and protest.
The reason there was such a huge response to the murder of George Floyd is simply because the man who killed him, was a police officer. His job was to protect citizens, including George Floyd. And what did he do? He murdered, in front of cameras and civilians, someone in the streets in front of our very eyes. The world was up in arms because, if we are not protected by the police, then we are not protected. Who can we turn to for help?
Collectively, the people who protested and asked for justice for George Floyd were not against the police. They were simply asking for better protection and that this man be removed from his job and society in order for the citizens of that country to be safe. The man who murdered Sgt Ranata is in custody and being charged with his murder.
There is nothing to protest, but that does not mean that the people who cried for George Floyd were not as saddened by this man’s death. I pray for a world in which there are more than two stances on each topic. For a world where we can support Black Lives Matter and also support the police force. A world where these things are not mutually exclusive. For a world where we can be neither particularly left nor right leaning. Where being pro-choice doesn’t mean you’re pro-abortion or pro ‘murder’, but that you simply support a woman having autonomy over her own body. Where being pro-life doesn’t mean you have been brainwashed by a church, but simply means you have your own beliefs in something that might be personal to you. A world where you can call yourself a vegan, but that doesn’t mean you blindly shove it down everyone’s throat. A world in which you can support veganism but still struggle with the lifestyle, so you do the best you can. A world in which you can be a meat-eater but also care about animals. A world where you can be either a vegan or a meat-eater and not be an inherently bad person because of either of those choices. A world where you can be a feminist and not hate men. A world where you can be a man and not be a pig. A world where there are a million nuances of our human selves that cannot be conveyed with only one emotive word.
Individuals can be Christian but also be pro-life. Just as a person can love animals but still eat cheese every now and again when they’re depressed, or just because they really, really love it. You can be a feminist in a quiet way that doesn’t involve shouting abuse at men. You can be left-leaning without supporting Labour. You can be a Tori and be a good person. You can be a labour-supporter but not support Jeremy Corbyn. You can have voted leave and not be a racist. There are a thousand things that someone can be, without being confined to one polarised narrative.
Let’s remove labels, remove binaries, remove judgements and preconceptions, and love truly and deeply.