I heard a newscaster discuss the protests across the country and claim we’ve never seen anything like this in America. He is wrong. We’ve seen this many times in our history. When people feel their lives don’t matter. When those in power abuse their rights or ignore, diminish and overlook the hardships the country is feeling. When those with the sacred duty to serve and protect abuse that trust.
For years it’s felt like kindling waiting to ignite.
A disparity in wealth, justice and opportunity cannot be ignored forever.
Police have the unique power to take away our liberty, to take away our lives. With that daunting power must come respect, humility and the absolute adherence of justice and equality to everyone under the law. They are not judge, jury and executioner.
They, and anyone in power who crosses the line, must face the consequences.
It’s time we made it clear- no one is above the law.
We can not tolerate a system that gives preferential treatment to one group over another.
Justice is supposed to be blind to color, religion, money. . .
We were built on the premise of equality for all. It’s taken far too long for that to become a reality.
When a better life is only available to a few.
When healthcare is nonexistent due to cost or accessibility at a time when it’s desperately required.
When bigotry and hatred are used as excuses to separate children from their parents and throw both into cages like animals.
When workers are forced back into cesspools of infection regardless of the protections they deserve because the “ food chain” is more important than their welfare.
When the economic and judicial disparity has grown to incredible proportions it’s easy to see how quickly it can explode.
The despicable murder of a black man- George Floyd- by the police as a crowd begged for them to stop was the igniting event.
We all saw the video.
On video, a man was unquestionably lynched. For over 8 minutes we saw his very life destroyed. A policeman’s knee crushed his neck, while others crushed his back or stood by.
He was not armed. He was not resisting. He was begging for his life.
Too often we have now heard the desperate plea,
“Stop, I can’t breath.”
In 2020? How is that possible?
I was a little girl when I first witnessed a protest deteriorate into riots and violence. My sister was born with a medical issue that required intervention only Los Angeles doctors could provide. After her discharge from the hospital my mother took us to a hotel before we would flying out the next day. That night we heard frightening sounds coming closer and closer.
Pops that I later realized were gun shots and mobs of people screaming. I remember vividly her calling the police to ask what was happening and what to do. When they heard where we were staying the reply was easy, “Lady get you and your daughters out of there!”
We had minimal resources but packed our bags and headed for high ground to wait it out.
I can still remember the vision from my window- fires, gun fire and thousands of angry people who had taken enough abuse making their way ever closer.
When I asked why, the answer was a simple, “It’s been a long time coming.”
Violence is never tolerable. Never acceptable. But those acts of civil disobedience, the basic right of every American to protest, non violently spurred a civil rights movements that finally began a discussion on racial equality in this country. One that has sorely missed its mark.
In the 1970’s, protests on a massive scale ended the Vietnam war after a devastating loss of life. Our right to peaceably congregate to show our concerns to those in power is written into the constitution.
Not looting and violence, but a peaceful demonstration that we’ve had enough. With it there will always be those who take advantage of the situation, others who seek to agitate and create a reason to destroy the movement.
We have had enough racial hatred and inequality.
We have had enough of a few percent having the wealth and power to subjugate the whole.
We have had enough lives lost to brutality and bigotry.
We have had enough of others deciding whose life matters and whose do not.
I have joined others to protest the anniversary of the Iraq war when visiting Chicago. I was in Washington DC when the entire mall was filled with headstones of everyone who had died to date in that war. Soldiers and civilians alike. A sight I’ll never forget. At another, protesters were demanding the repeal of the despicable military rule against gays in the armed forces- ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’
I was at the local women’s march in January 2016 when 25,000 protesters of families, men, women and all colors made it clear our legal rights would not be rescinded. Police lined the streets in riot gear- full body armor, shields, weapons, many on horseback. Barricades blocked access off the street.
It wasn’t meant to protect my constitutional right to peaceable congregate. It was a show of force and authority. It was meant to make us cower in fear. To make us question our decision to stand together. When bigotry, hatred against others and blame is used to turn Americans against Americans -this is what happens. Add to that a horrific pandemic that’s killing relentlessly because there is no cohesive plan to guide us.
When COVID destroys in significantly higher numbers those who are poor, of color and in jobs that can’t be done on-line this is the result. It’s easy for people to tell others to buck up and do their patriotic duty by returning to work when their own lives are not at risk.
Almost 2 million people are infected with COVID 19. Over 100,000 souls have perished because no one had done anything to stop its relentless destruction. We have 40 million people out of work. An economy with no fix in sight. Our country is breaking apart.
Our country is raw, screaming in pain.
It is our right to make peacefully clear:
We are tired, overwhelmed, angry, sick, in need, dying and hurting.
Our voices will be heard.