America watched in utter disbelief as an officer surrounded by his co-workers, put his knee on the neck of an African American male until he died. This was not a movie made for TV but an outright murder that took place in the streets of America witnessed by spectators crying out in disbelief. America can never forget the haunting cries for help as the man beg and pleaded for his life to a deaf audience of watching officers.
We remember the cries of “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe”; “My neck hurt”; “My stomach hurt”; “My whole body hurt”; “Please somebody help me”; “They are going to kill me”; “Mama.” These are the haunting words etched in the minds of millions of Americans and the world as they watched in disbelief as George Floyd, an African American male, succumbed to his death with the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin on his neck.
There’s no denying that when looking at the televised video—George Floyd was murdered. But the officer and his partners remained free. However, the outrage of the public led to the arrest of the Officer Derek Chauvin. He is being charged with murder and manslaughter. The hesitancy to arrest the killer and those complicit in Floyd’s death is troubling, especially considering if the officer involved in the killing had been Black. The nation is further awaiting the arrest of the three complicit officers who allowed the murder to take place.
Fast-forward, and you have national protests taking place in major cities throughout the United States. People are rallying to peacefully protest George Floyd’s murder and demand an end to the senseless killing of unarmed African Americans by law enforcement officers and the manipulations of law enforcing agencies to cover up or trivialize the actions by officers involved in so many of these murders. These protest rallies are well attended by diverse crowds of fed up Americans. Blacks and Whites are peacefully coming together to advocate for change. These are people undergoing a myriad of feelings, e.g.: sadness, anger, frustration, and empathy. They are coming together seeking changes.
There are speakers appealing to voters to use their voting power to elect legislators that will advocate for changes in laws, policies and practices that adversely and discriminately affect people of color. Speakers at these rallies are calling for drastic changes in our judicial system calling for equality, justice and fairness in how Blacks are treated by law enforcement officers.
These protest rallies were meant to be peaceful, but all too often infiltrating forces or rioters among the protestors derailed the peaceful protests. Certain demagogues perpetuate violence. Provocateurs and White hate groups have hijacked the protests and destroyed property. There has been looting and the burning down of businesses. These random acts of violence, looting and destruction by rioters only serve to desecrate the memory of George Floyd and others being memorialized.
We are seeing moments of the best and worst of what this country is capable of offering. There were some peaceful demonstrators who were gassed or fired upon with rubber bullets. Some could say that the right for peaceful protest assembly in some cases is under attack. One must also acknowledge that there were also many acts of kindness and compassion by officers for the protestors and protestors for the officers.
The message of the protest is often lost when more concentration is given to the violence and disruptive agitators who only used the protest to advance their unlawful agenda. They are skilled and tactful in harnessing the anger and rage of young people in the crowd—many times gassing them up to aide them in their nefarious purpose. Then perpetuating looting, violence and destruction discredits the demonstration as a whole. Unfortunately, some people will use the acts of violence as reasons not to support the movement for change.
Lets pray that people will not let the diversions and obvious smokescreens keep them from supporting justice for George Floyd and the other fallen, unarmed African American young men murdered at the hands of officers or vigilantes. The prize we relentlessly seek is social justice and racial equality for all.
Our pain and anger must be channeled into our vote to bring about the desired outcome. We must vote out those who have a record of supporting discriminatory laws and vote in others who are supportive of racial equality and the ending of discriminatory practices. There is no shortage of Whites participating in protests rallies to end this reign of racial inequality, especially when it comes to discriminately snuffing out the lives of young Black men. It reassuring to know that many people see this practice for what it is: a gross violation and disregard for the lives of Black men and women—a practice that must change. Black lives must matter.
When good Whites speak about the iniquities and discriminatory practices of other Whites (and demand change), it speaks volumes. It can be a very effective tool in helping to bring about the change we seek. So let’s hope those good, morally conscious Whites who attend the protests will use their votes and connections to effect change. It’s time to stop crying and acquiescing. It’s time to effect much needed change.