George Floyd shouldn't have been killed. It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out. Now people are taking to the streets and rioting, let's talk about that.
Up until the 25th of May, news was focused on the Covid-19 pandemic. As of writing this article, there have been over 400,000 deaths worldwide. Tragically, many people have died and many probably still will die, let's ensure that they aren't forgotten. Covid-19 has shown how unprepared even the most 'advanced' societies can be when a different type of pandemic occurs. The virus seems to have been temporarily forgotten about with the horrific death of George Floyd.
It is clear that when a police service responds to brutality with brutality there is something wrong. Calling the police a service seems far fetched at this point. The problem appears to be rooted when slavery held common place in America. For whatever reason, some people's attitudes haven't changed, and this, in turn, has lead to a frankly broken system. Police brutality is wrong. Life is sacred and change is needed.
In normal times, peaceful protest is one of the best ways to get a point across. Martin Luther King's March on Washington is proof enough of this. But, these aren't normal times. We live in a time where large gatherings can spread a virus that we still don't know enough about. There is no such thing as a socially distanced protest.
Here are the relevant WHO guidelines when it comes to social distancing:
Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.
Avoid going to crowded places. Why? Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet).
(Source: World Health Organisation)
As the images have clearly demonstrated, this simply isn't possible when protesting with such large groups.
Many people have been called racist for not attending these marches. The Oxford English Dictionary defines racism as:
discrimination against people because of their race or belief that a particular race is superior to others
If you die as a result of attending a protest now, you won't be able to fight for equality later. If you care about your health and want to stay at home that is ok. It doesn't automatically make you a racist. At this crucial time, protestors need to cooperate and separate there differences to focus on the shared goal. Calling someone a racist because they don't attend a protest doesn't actually achieve anything. A policeman kneeling on a black person's neck for eight minutes when they aren't resisting arrest is clearly motivated by racism.
Maya Angelou wrote the famous poem 'I know why the caged bird sings'. It describes a bird who has been imprisoned in a cage and sings accordingly. In juxtaposition to this, there is a another bird who lives freely, only thinking about the next breeze. The poem is a metaphor for the privilege that white people in America (and it is probably true across the globe) have in comparison to black people. When we have lost all else, we still have our voices. This is especially true in America, where the First Amendment is valued so strongly. The caged bird sings for freedom.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
It is important that peoples' voices are heard. Black people have suffered enough and shouldn't have to continue facing the abuse that they clearly do. In the era of social media, we all have a platform to make our voice heard.
Don't go thinking, however, that making a tweet counts as action. On Instagram, the 'blackouttuesday' hashtag was an embarrassment. People seemed to have the impression that by posting a black box, they are defeating racism. This isn't the case. All this hashtag did was to notify a small number of people who were strangely unaware of what was going on. Instagram 'movements' won't solve this issue. If you want to help, it is better to make a donation. If you are in the position where you are financially able to do so then please make one to a reputable organisation like the ACLU.
If, however, you do decide that you need to attend the protest, linked are some things you must do.
There are videos (skip to 1:43) of police clearly causing damage to use it as an excuse for violent measures . To make matters worse, police forces know they can get away with these sorts of attacks.
We don't need to abolish the police. Police exist for a reason. If your house is robbed, you tell the police. Police do not exist to use pepper spray on protestors. Police don't exist to attack reporters for seemingly no reason.
Neil deGrasse Tyson raised some great points in his article, Reflections on the Color of My Skin, such as extending police training on cultural awareness and sensitivity, along with testing officers for implicit bias. Others have suggested that decreasing police funding would correlate to a decrease in police violence. CAMPAIGN ZERO is purposing a 10 step plan which includes demilitarising the police and limiting their use of force. Due to the nature of the problem, the best solution will probably be multiple of these different methods all working in conjunction.
Whatever happens, police need to accept responsibility for their actions. They should be held accountable when they commit a crime, just the like you or I would be. The repercussions also need to be greater when such a crime is committed, losing a job isn't compensation for taking a life. No-one is above the law. Trevor Noah talked about society being a contract: for it to work we all need to uphold it.
- – Note: my aim here is not to fuel conspiracy, but 'undercover cops' do exist, its called 'Color of the day'.
I’m publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting https://100daystooffload.com
#100DaysToOffload – Day 17/100