George Floyd’s life mattered. He was a human being. Want to talk about Constitutional rights, a term being thrown around like confetti lately? George Floyd had a Constitutional right to live. He had a right to due process. He had a right to not die while desperately trying to get oxygen into his lungs despite his face being smashed against the pavement and a knee pressed against his neck. He had a Constitutional right to be treated fairly.
And now that he’s dead — he died while being held down by a rogue cop, not indicative at all of the majority of this noble profession — his family has a Constitutional right to justice. They have a right to expect national leaders to look for long-term solutions and stop pointing fingers of blame. Remember the phrase “the buck stops here?” President Harry S. Truman knew what it meant. Our current government is hiding in a bunker in the White House instead of working on solutions. Our current government is stoking unrest with inflammatory tweets. Our current government would like to pull out guns (you know, like the ones that were allowed into the Wisconsin and Michigan state houses to protect the “Constitutional right” to not wear a face mask and to go out for dinner) and stop demonstrators.
Is that what we’ve become?
Yes, unfortunately, it is. Plain and simple, it is dangerous to be a black person in America. It is also terribly wrong to loot, destroy property and be violent. We are not condoning violence. More importantly, we are humbled by the Westshore’s response to the violence in downtown Cleveland. On Sunday, many went downtown and helped clean up. Unbelievably inspirational.
Let’s not be distracted by the violence. Yes, it is horrible. It shouldn’t have happened. But George Floyd’s death was horrible. As were the deaths of all those others who have died because they were “guilty of being black.”
But not all is lost. Perhaps you missed one of the best things to happen during all the chaos of the past few days. Countless law enforcement officers, at scenes throughout the United States to help control the violence and crowds, actually joined the protesters.
Here are some examples:
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo knelt Sunday at the memorial for Floyd, joining the crowds who came out to honor the slain man.
In Houston, Floyd’s hometown, Police Chief Art Acevedo kneeled along with protesters.
In New York City, a police officer was seen taking a knee in front of a heart drawn on a wall during a rally for Floyd on Sunday near Times Square.
In New Jersey, Camden County Metro Police Chief Joe Wysocki joined demonstrators at the head of a march holding a sign that read “Standing in Solidarity” to honor the movement and spread a message of peace.
An entire line of officers was seen taking a knee as they faced protesters in Spokane County, Washington.
Law enforcement in Des Moines, Iowa, took a knee outside the Des Moines Police Department Sunday night,
In Kansas City, Missouri, at least one protester shook the hand of an officer at a Sunday protest.
As we face an uncertain future, let’s follow the lead of those officers and join hands and work together. Let’s honor the dead by working on a systemic solution.