Last Monday the riots spreading across the country in response to the death of George Floyd arrived at my door step. While the protests themselves began in other areas of town shortly before I left work, businesses in our plaza closed early, barricaded their doors and we were all prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice. The Emergency Broadcast System Tone echoed through my kitchen several times as curfew orders were updated or put in place, and the most disturbing of all were the gaggle of armed civilians wandering around “protecting” the neighborhood.
When it was all said and done locally it turned out to be nothing more than a social media scare campaign which wasn’t directly associated with the protests at all. (I assumed as much when plaza parking lot remained empty after the designated meeting time.) I was never scared of protesters, but the panic and trigger happy civilians “defending us” against said protesters created massive anxiety and rage that resulted in a migraine and tears during my short commute home.
Friends and family in law enforcement: know that I understand the complicated situation you have found yourselves in. I understand that not all officers are bad people, and most of the time I have no issues respecting the authority and difficulty of the law enforcement profession.
With that said: as I was leaving work in the midst of the chaos my Hispanic coworkers were terrified to leave. They didn’t want to get stopped by police, afraid that because they were Hispanic their voices explaining why they were out after curfew wouldn’t matter and they would be detained. They were afraid that based on the simple color of their skin that they would be considered a protester regardless of the truth. One even said: “I am Spanish and the police don’t listen to me. I need a letter or a phone call to get home.” They weren’t afraid to leave in the midst of the potential riot or violence, they were afraid of the police. These honest, hardworking people who fled South American violence and unrest to come here for a better life.
WE HAVE TO DO BETTER. We have to do better. This is the reality of minorities in this country and unfortunately the voices of the good, honorable law enforcement officers have been drowned out by others lusting for power and control. I love you all, friends, and I am sick with worry for those on both sides.
I am pro Second Amendment rights, but just because you have the right to own and use a firearm does NOT mean you are able to handle it in the chaos of a volatile situation. PUT THE DAMN GUNS DOWN. Be better.
I generally support order and police authority, but the system is corrupt and in desperate need of reform. Listen to those who are protesting! Be better.
The entire world has endured multiple traumatic events in recent months. We are all shell shocked. Humans have two basic reactions to trauma, and fear. Fight or flight. No one can run away in the middle of a pandemic. The only thing left to do is fight. It’s ingrained in the survival instincts of humanity. Violence makes sense when one is forced to confront systemic problems. Do not criticize the way people fight for their very survival. Be better.
We have to. There are no other options.