On Memorial Day, Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on George Floyd, a suspected criminal in his charge. For nearly nine minutes, a man sworn to protect and serve his community, crushed the life out of another man.
Only after several days was Chauvin arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder. Three other officers who failed to protect and serve Floyd and their community have not yet been charged.
Beyond any question of race, there should be real outrage in all of us. If the police, those we trust to walk our streets with weapons and authority can murder this man in broad daylight, they can murder anyone. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. The next person whom an errant police officer decides to execute might be someone you love.
One way to send a clear message to politicians that We The People will not stand for these outrages is protests. Others include voting, volunteering, running for office, supporting journalism, and using your position in the community to make your voice against these outrages heard.
But rioting, looting and vandalism only adds to the outrages suffered by the innocent.
Rioters leave their calm homes and invade urban neighborhoods where they terrorize residents who are afraid to go to the store, walk their dogs or take their children to the parks. These invaders destroy and vandalize the infrastructure families and workers rely on every day.
Worse, by looting and damaging stores, these thugs harm small and large business owners alike. They force bars and restaurants to close in the evenings and scare patrons away. As business owners struggle to stay afloat and keep their employees on the roles, these terrorists steal the final opportunities some of them have to achieve their dreams.
I honestly don’t think these riots have anything to do with Floyd’s death or inequalities in our justice system. I think there are a lot of angry people in America.
In less than 90 days, more than 42 million people lost their jobs. During that time, people have been required to stay inside their homes, some of them completely isolated from the world and others in unhappy family situations.
Now they are out, wearing masks, and any excuse will do.
We’ve gone from having internet trolls who feel free to tell teenage girls how ugly they are and harass people at the worst moments of their lives by telling them what bad parents they must have been, to faceless rioters who feel they can destroy real property without consequence. Ridicule and name calling is fun, but breaking things is so much more satisfying.
In the West, masks have always been the dress code for thieves and cowards. COVID-19 and the CDC required mask wearing for everyone. Who knew there were so many thieves and cowards hiding among us?
Perhaps the CDC should have considered the mental health of the nation before making masks a requirement.
One of the worst aspects of the riots is long after they are over, the African American community will be left to shoulder the blame. Those whose voices need to be heard will be left voiceless, because their cause is being railroaded by destructive forces beyond their control.
There are real issues in our country. In 2015, the Justice Department found African Americans were 68 percent less likely than Caucasians to have their charges dismissed for similar low-level crimes.
I never had the opportunity to meet George Floyd, and now I never will. I cannot tell you whether he was a good man or not. I can tell you we do not execute people in this country for passing a counterfeit $20 bill or even for resisting arrest.
The actions and inactions of the officers that led to Floyd’s death are theirs and theirs alone. We cannot judge all officers by their actions.
Every coward, hiding behind a badge or a mask, will eventually be dragged into the light. But the damage they do may leave us all scared.
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