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A Death in Minneapolis

This post began as an email response to one who doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with those I call out for pretending to not see the injustice that envelops our society. The injustice many of us so often tolerate or, at least, do little to fight. I do NOT exclude myself from that “many of us.”
 
I realized as my frustration and despondent grief spilled into the email, that this really was directed not to one, but to ALL of us. So little modified, and addressing right off the bat something readers of my blog did not actually say to me, is what I am feeling on this dreadful day. I have made little attempt here to spare anyone’s feelings or to be insincerely respectful of beliefs I do not share.
 
Really, I wanted to post a playful and frivolous bit of nonsense about the “backyard birds of May” yesterday, but that is best left for another time, if ever.

His name is George Floyd

George FloydI support good cops, of which there are many. And yes, the profession is a dangerous one, though not among the top ten most dangerous in America (I believe roofers still work in the most dangerous one, which may be why we are for the most part happy to let undocumented immigrants do this work for us). I am sure cops across the country are nervous today. One may be killed in an unjustified act of misguided retaliation. Or, just as likely it seems to me, a nervous and on-the-edge officer may shoot and kill an unfortunate person who otherwise may have escaped that fate.

Today is not the day I will choose to mourn the hypothetical police officer who may be killed in some future act of senseless violence.

I am against wrongs from either side. The looting and violence in the wake of this Minneapolis killing are very wrong. The large numbers of angry, but peaceful protesters will of course be smeared with the stink of the actions of the (relative to them) few. As always. The “Mad Dads” organization of black fathers in Minneapolis that has been calling for years on their community–and in particular its young men–to turn away from violence, are there pleading with people to understand and live “two wrongs don’t make a right.” They are far from the only aggrieved parties calling for sanity. Sadly, they are being ignored by the angry opportunists.

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America has a reckoning in store for so many years of official and unofficial oppression. The center cannot hold.

The “code of silence” that has been such a pervasive part of police culture for so long, has in the long run done good cops no favors.

I recall reading somewhere that a prominent black celebrity (it may have been Denzel Washington, but I don’t know that) said of police brutality directed toward African-Americans, “It has been happening a long time. Only now is it being filmed.” (That is the gist of it, anyway.)[1] We all know this, or should. But since this breach in the thick foggy blue line first occurred in the case of Rodney King, it hasn’t really seemed to have any effect. None but touching off sad, self-defeating riots like the ones in Los Angeles, Ferguson, and last night in Minneapolis.

No white man in this country would be killed for trying to pass a counterfeit $20 at a deli and then being “difficult” about being put into a police vehicle. I’m sure he had his faults. We all do, and some more than others. A prominent man once said, “Let any without sin throw the first stone.” Whatever. It was written down, but doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression.

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That George Floyd worked the past five years in a restaurant where he was loved, and was described by two shocked cousins in Texas as “everyone’s favorite” will be dismissed by those who need to believe he was a bad guy who somehow deserved what he got. His faults and weaknesses, real and imagined, will comfort white Americans who just don’t want to see the pervasive injustice that is all around them, which is a challenge and a rebuke to the way they see the world. The people who can sleep well at night by clutching their precious conviction that “people, by-and-large, get what they deserve.” The people who say, “I’m not racist, BUT…”

At one point before an ambulance was called (or at least hadn’t arrived), a Minneapolis Fire Department EMT at the scene asked to assist the subdued, handcuffed, unarmed, prone man–one with an officer’s knee on his neck saying until he could no longer move or speak, “Please, I can’t breathe”–but the offer of help was refused.

Origin of image unknownHe will never speak or breathe again.

Alas, the demonization of George Floyd has already begun. There is at least one faked photo purporting to show him confronting cops with an axe. There will be more. How many will believe these hateful slanders? How many will use these false narratives, faked and distorted images, and the awful scenes of rioting to blot out the image of a white officer murdering a handcuffed, unarmed black man on a Minneapolis street in broad daylight? How many will welcome the deceptions, all to preserve their fantasies of an America “under God” with, picture this, “liberty and justice for all.”

Can you imagine an African-American being asked to recite the Pledge of Allegiance today–or any other day since it was written? I love my country, served it (in peacetime, lucky me), and I could not in good conscience say its last six words, with liberty and justice for ALL. Words that are untrue today. Words that have never been true in this country. Not even remotely true. Though white, male, straight, Christians who cannot empathize with those outside of their bubble may be flabbergasted to learn that.

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Say his name: George Floyd.

I have contributed to the Minneapolis Chapter of Mad Dads. If you are able and find it worthy, please consider making a contribution of your own.

Notes

  1. It was Will Smith who said, “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.” [^]

 

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