I was talking to an officer friend of mine the other day, and we were talking about the riots. I said I don’t condone it but I could understand the anger. Do you really believe they haven’t been gaslit at every turn? Every time, they are told how to feel about it, and how to express it, and how not to express it. To be smaller. To be quieter. So that they aren’t inconvenient or make everybody else uncomfortable. So that it doesn’t interrupt our regularly scheduled programming. So that it can be ignored again. Well they are uncomfortable! And we should be more uncomfortable with the reason.
I watched the video, instead of just reading all the noise it triggered. I watched while one person squeezed the life out of another. All while surrounded by people. On a busy street in America. My America. And nobody stopped him. In eight minutes, not even his own conscience broke through his hate and resolve. Not a jaded, but still good-hearted officer stepped in. Not a rush of bystanders to stop this crime they were now being forced to witness. All it would have taken to save him was one. Just one. So… I ask, Why? What made that officer think he could get away with what he very knowingly was doing? What made the others feel justified in standing watch as he did it? How normal must this be that he got away with murdering a man, in broad daylight, in the year 2020. I mean, we’re supposed to have flying cars by now! How often does this happen, that they didn’t feel they could stop it? As they stood and watched, and begged him to let him up, while they were hoping for a happy ending, like we’re raised to believe in… instead, they became a part of the crime. On one hand, they were all George Floyd, pinned down by a system meant to protect them. And in a way, we’re all that man, because we couldn’t stop him from doing it, making us all feel complicit. Something is very, very broken.
What could have been going through his head, despite the growing heat from bystanders, despite the cries of the man himself, and surely, despite the tiny pull of even the shadow of a conscience, that this isn’t right…? When you are kids, you fight and you wrestle, but every kid knows, when someone cries “mercy,” you’ve gotta let go. Every good cop knows when you gain control, you release the force.
My friend said to me, “He lost his s*. If you look, he probably had a history…” to which I replied, “But isn’t that the definition of institutionalization?” So, there it is, America. If we want to know what we can do, we can start there. We need to demand better from the people who know of these things and still put those violators in charge of the American public. And we need to insist on these changes.
Because one life lost is one too many. No life is “expendable”. People are not insignificant.
We agreed on some other key points that day:
- The death of George Floyd was unjustifiable; the protests are not.
- Looting is dangerous and doesn’t help anyone’s cause.
- There exist opportunistic people who will pervert any movement to further their own agendas and we should be on the lookout for those.
- Racism is real.
- Officers of the law can and should be held to a higher standard and should expect such.
You can always expect people to be people. And crime comes in every shape, form, and fashion. Of course, we need the help of the police. There will always be crime. We will always need this line of defense, the one we can count to call on to bring chaos to order, to defend the defenseless, to be there when lives are at stake. Good people have always suffered at the hands of evildoers, and I can’t think of more noble a profession than a first responder or defender of the public. So, I know we find ourselves at a quandary when these lines get blurred. We’re all like, wait a minute. Who’s the bad guy here? What am I seeing? Where’s the justice? Folks, why wouldn’t we want to maintain the integrity of the system? What does it cost us to just ask more questions? And what is that worth, compared to what it costs us NOT TO? What power do we have, what recourse? You guessed it, the American dollar. At this point, reviewing how resources are allocated is just due diligence. Anything else that killed so many American people, we would have declared war on a long time ago… the war on drugs. The war on terrorism. The fight against cancer. And diabetes. And crime. And Cheeseburgers. Doesn’t it feel like we have a blind spot? Why don’t we declare war on hate? One of the most destructive forces, hate. Because you don’t even need an enemy to implode from hate.
What power do we have over this people-eating machine? We have the power not to feed it. Every operation everywhere takes money. Also, they need support. That means, if you take away the votes that keep them in power, you can change the direction of how all of this goes from here. Please inform yourself, get familiar with the process, and get your voice counted. Read Up. Speak Up. Rise Up. Do it because it’s the opposite of ignored, overlooked, and forgotten.