The municipality of Minneapolis is across the mighty Mississippi River from the home I share with my husband and our son in the adjacent twin city, 11 miles from Cup Foods, the neighborhood grocery where a grandfather and father of three made his last commercial transaction, for a pack of cigarettes. It became his last, after the $20 he’d used to pay for his purchase turned out to be counterfeit, and because he couldn’t be convinced by store associates the money was fake, he’d refused to give the cigarettes back; MN state law requires businesses to report these incidents to the police, so the grocery store clerk did so, while the shop owner admits this frustrated customer very likely did not know the single bill was a phony. When the police arrived on the scene, they found him sitting outside the business in his vehicle, and from there, things quickly escalated beyond reason.
I couldn’t tell you how or why George Floyd had the misfortunate of finding this bogus twenty to have landed in his wallet. It should be plainly evident to anyone that Frank Abagnale, Jr., George Floyd was most certainly not, and no one could have perceived this isolated encounter as the result of some greater forgery conspiracy ring. If so, the “perpetrator” most likely would never have been using racketeering gains for a pack of cigarettes at the corner grocery in the heart of an inner city neighborhood, and he most assuredly would not have been quietly waiting around in his car in front of the establishment he is alleged to have effectively ripped off of twenty bucks and a pack of cigarettes.
I’ve no idea where he picked up the bad bill... perhaps someone passed it to him as a tip at Conga Latin Bistro, where he worked as a security guard — or El Nuevo Rodeo, just 2 miles down the road across the Minnehaha highway, where he helped out at the door for special events — which would not have been unreasonable, because George Floyd was known by most anyone who’d met him for his big smile, his kind heart, his gentle manner. It was said of him that he stood up for people, he was there for folks when they were down, that many members of the community knew him as someone who had their back, who would go out of his way to help others. His fiancé said he had a soft spot for people who’d been thrown away, admitting the kindness he’d shown to her at a Salvation Army three years ago was the reason they’d initially become involved; she confessed he’d been changing her life ever since, teaching her by example to be a better person.
George Floyd was the kind of employee who knew customers by their first names — often giving and receiving hugs — who would walk anyone who asked to their cars at night to keep them safe. He was known by many as a man of peace, who had a knack for lifting people up with his caring presence, often in ways he didn’t even realize. I can’t speak to anything else about his character beyond what his friends and family and those who knew him have been willing to share — I’m sure like most folks, he was neither demon nor saint.
I do know plenty about his criminal record, though, because that’s always the quickest personal background to be put out in these cases. I know he’d had a history of violence in another state — some of it even pretty nasty stuff — but he’d served his time, and he’d moved here to get a fresh start, which it seems he was able to do... he’d kept his nose clean for over 10 years. I’m not intending to put George Floyd on a pedestal, but I know whatever was in his past, he didn’t deserve to die that day, and he didn’t need to become another statistic in the long line of authoritarian killing of unarmed Black people as a result of the institutionalized, systemic racism in this country that has been permitted to run rampant for far too long.
No one does... Ever.
I’m not going to go into great detail about the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that ended George Floyd’s life. I would think unless you’ve lived in an underground bunker for the last few weeks, you’re at least aware of the recorded accounts of his unnecessarily brutal arrest, in which a white cop kept his neck pinned with the weight of a full grown man upon it, while three other officers stood around and watched. Perhaps, if you’re like me, you haven’t been able to bring yourself to bear witness to the horror of his final few moments — gasping for breath with his hands cuffed behind his back and his face pressed into the street, begging for his life and calling out for his Mama — before he lost consciousness.
I’m not going to address the question of why it would take four men more than just a few moments to load a non-combative man — even a big, dark, strong one with a history of violence — into a police wagon once he was handcuffed, subdued, and in custody. I’m not going to wonder what they were doing during that time, what they were waiting for, or why his murderer kept his hands at his pockets. I will leave that speculation to the Minnesota State Attorney General, who is prosecuting their respective cases, because the Hennepin County District Attorney has a long track record proving he can’t be trusted to serve justice.
I’m not a reporter; I’m not responsible for bringing any news to light about these events. I’m not a journalist; I’m not documenting an historical record of significant world happenings for future generations. I’m not a teacher; if you wanted to educate yourself about the inequitable conditions minorities face every day — to become more knowledgeable about the reality of how greatly their lives differ from yours — you would do your own research, figuring out on your own how to learn what you don’t know, without putting the onus of that task on the people of color around you.
I am a mixed race woman in a mixed race marriage with a mixed race child, and I live in the epicenter of the latest path of destruction in America’s violent and often deadly ongoing war of racial inequality. I can’t change the world... I can’t even change minds. I can’t know what I know and not say what I see, but I can make sure my son grows up knowing the truth about what happened here.
If you’re watching from afar, perhaps all you see is the misdirection, the smoke and mirrors, the twisted spin so many so easily put upon any “blow-up” of civil unrest such as this to make it fit that classic, time-honored, convenient, comfortable narrative that lets the complacent white majority sleep at night... that much more easy to swallow story of making the angry, dark skinned folk out to be ungrateful, villainous, opportunistic thugs who don’t know their place, and who will jump at any chance for an excuse to take by force whatever they can get their dirty hands on from hard working business owners and even their own communities. But I need you to understand, if that is what you’re seeing, it can only be because you’ve being blinded by privilege, and making a conscious decision to accept the story you’ve been spoonfed in a neatly giftwrapped package — the one that serves the interest of those who seek to maintain the status quo, and to keep the oppressors in power, with a knee on the back of all our necks. And I need you to realize that in order to do so, you have chosen to reject reality... so let me pull back the curtain of our world for you.
This community is understandably hurting, angry, and traumatized; and we have been pushed beyond our limits. But WE are peacefully protesting. It is the POLICE who are rioting, with the aid of allies in external white supremacy groups called in by the dog whistle of our resident racist-in-chief, whose tweets have declared open season on the Twin Cities to any red-hat wearing yahoos with a chip on their shoulders and a hankering for a past time in this country when this kind of thing could be done in the streets without consequence, back when our nation was supposedly, “Great,” in that bygone era toward which they would like us all to collectively return, so the “master race” may go back to raping and murdering with impunity, as they believe is their god-given right.
I’m not making false accusations, or weaving conspiracy theories. This is not the underground, cloak and dagger, daytime talk show exposé by a person who is easily swayed by BS, or a gullible yokel buying into emotionally charged fairytales meant to illicit a reaction for the purpose of achieving an ulteriorly motivated result. I’m attesting to what I know, because I am on the front lines of this particular ground zero, and I am in touch with those on the street, in the trenches — they are my friends, my family, my neighbors, my business associates, people I care about and love... this is my community... this is my home... this is what’s going on.
TO PROTECT AND SERVE
On the first night of protests, while people were gathered together, talking, chanting, and singing, police drove by and sprayed mace into the crowd from their car windows; when no one moved, police threw flash bangs off the roof into the crowd. Cops barricaded all roads out of the area to prevent anyone from leaving, and when the protesters began to retreat, police followed them on bikes, to mace them. I’ll say that again, a little louder... COPS MACED PROTESTERS FROM BEHIND AS PEOPLE WERE FLEEING TO DISPERSE.
There was no announcement over a bullhorn; no orders were given, no loud call of instruction, no siren, no whistle... there would have been no warning at all, except those who were at the front — close enough to the police line to be able to watch what the cops were doing — saw when the entire department donned gas masks. Then, a reaction rippled through the group gathered there as the first wave turned their backs, and shouted at others to do the same... many, thinking it was part of the demonstration, put their hands in the air, and began a new chant, “Don’t shoot me! I’m unarmed!” And that’s when the shooting started — volley after volley of mace, tear gas, concussion grenades, rubber bullets and sponge rounds were fired by the police indiscriminately into the crowd, which began to scatter, running blind and choking from the hail of violence.
Police tear gassed teenagers who were on their knees with their hands behind their heads — that’s CHILDREN who are not old enough to vote or enter a bar unaccompanied — who were complying with the demands of civil authorities, as they’ve been taught to do.
...These accounts represent a general summary of how the tone was set for the environment in the Twin Cities that continued on throughout the duration of these civil uprisings... this consolidated report of incidents like this happening all over the metro, but especially in the city of Minneapolis, from people I know personally — and some I’ve come to know as a result of this shared moment in our history — who’ve taken the time to write about their experience, to bear witness with play by play testimonies, to give evidence with shared pictures, and to get the word out, with the images and video recordings that law enforcement has been working at every turn to supress. All of them are saying variations of the same theme — there was a massive repression against protesters who never crossed a police line or endangered any cop — though many were understandably justifiably angry, most weren’t even yelling. Cops weren’t ‘responding’ to ongoing rioting — they CAUSED it.
But that isn’t the story the news wants you to know, so that isn’t what’s being shown.
It gets worse, though ... St Paul Police Officer Shohara, whose badge reads 633025 — but who answered my friend his # was 777 when she inquired — made a clear and direct threat to her in front of her children, when she pulled out her phone to take his photo, by asking her, “Who are you going to call when you get raped?” His intentions were clear: to display his power over her, and to create fear. She captured his image, and sent it to his superiors — I haven’t seen an update on whether anything came of it, but who knows... if we’re lucky, maybe he got a finger wagged at him, and was given a stern talking to. :-/
Other accounts show police shot flammables directly into parked cars and bushes in front of Target. One more time, with feeling, for that one, too... COPS BURNED VEHICLES ON THE STREET belonging to citizens of the city they were sworn to protect, and COPS SET FIRE to a prominent Minnesota-based business. Also, COPS in riot gear threw shopping carts through the glass walls of the bus shelter across from Target by their police station... they’d been easy to come by, as protestors — who don’t show up in riot gear — had used them to surround themselves with for protection.
The news isn’t showing you that, either.
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
On the afternoon of the third day following Floyd’s murder, in an unprecedented turn of events, the entire CNN television news crew was arrested and taken into custody, just for being on the scene and filming what they saw on the ground in the streets of Minneapolis, while local troops aligned to the department — whose cameras were trained on looters, with a keen focus on dark faces — were permitted to remain and keep rolling. The world watched this happen live during an on-air cable news broadcast, and yet, immediately afterward, the Minneapolis Police Department denied it happened. Our state governor quickly intervened to get the team released the same day, but it begs the question... if the cops are willing to bold-faced lie to us about what we know we’ve seen with our own eyes, how can we trust what they’re saying about what they will not allow to shown to us, but which people who are there testify to of their own accord?
A St Paul police officer, standing and watching the destruction of a building without moving to lift a finger to stop it, instead turned around and threw a tear gas bomb at the feet of two white female reporters who were taking photos — one of whom is a friend of mine, who has asthma and thought her lungs were going to explode and her eyes were going to burn, until a kind stranger poured milk on her face to ease her suffering.
Some friends who lived close enough to the 3rd precinct went out after a few hours when the noise died down, because the quiet was even more disturbing, and they wanted to make sure everyone was okay. They observed the gathering from a safe distance of about 100 ft away from the main group at the barricade — who were standing with their hands in the air — while sharing an umbrella across the street. When my friend’s partner took out his phone to take a picture of the scene of protesters positioned as if in a hostage stance at gunpoint — an act neither illegal nor aggressive — they were shot at with rubber bullets, as were the empty-handed protesters in surrender posture.
TO KEEP THE PEACE
Another friend lives across from the police training facility in North Minneapolis, where he watched large groups of battle ready cops regularly congregating outside in the parking lot, just a few feet from the sidewalk, for an hour at a time or so, in varying shifts throughout the day. My friend was able to listen from his apartment window, and also walked his dog several times every little while to get closer, encountering other neighbors out and about who were just as horrified at this collective of bros boasting about their battles. There was no formal organization to it, and no one was in charge... they seemed to be just hanging out there to socialize before their next “tour,” mostly bragging, without a care for who heard them — unless being overheard was an underlying tactic — about their experiences the night before, and how much they were looking forward to their plans for the night to come, in a way that indicated this was all fun for them.
The atmosphere of macho joviality clearly showcased these cops felt assured they would not need to worry in the slightest about any consequences from their actions. They smacked each other on the back, making sure everyone had gone through all their bullets, making excuses and apologizing if they had not, and cheered when they heard each man would be getting more spray for the night. It would seem there was a game or a pool or a goal of hitting the max number of people per outing, as if this was all just some sort of first person shooter video game, and the very real humans being shot were just “targets.” “We spray, they pray,” someone said, to an uproar of laughter, a round of bro taps, and a rousing chorus of repetition within the group... it became repeated often enough across multiple shifts, it comes off like the new unofficial motto of the MPD.
On another note... cops in Minneapolis apparently don’t care anything at all about the dangers of Covid. They must all be in the “it’s a hoax” camp, as they hang out in large groups, standing merely inches away from each other, their camaraderie complete with hugging, back-slapping, fist-bumping, and not a single one using any coverage to contain their germs. So it should be no surprise — since they obviously do not recognize the validity of this very real risk — that there were multiple reported cases of cops going through crowds and ripping off protester’s face masks.
Perhaps you’ve seen a video — or maybe several — of a mysterious white man in a chemical gas mask and bio-hazard gear easily wandering through the crowds of peaceful protestors, and calmly approaching the local Auto Zone to nonchalantly smash out all their windows with a hammer, as casually as if he were merely a postal carrier dropping off the day’s delivery. Some videos show him retreating as protesters confronted him for his actions; some even follow him all the way back to the police station, where he walks right in through the front doors — in one of them, one of the protesters questioned him directly, “Are you a *#>@%!<&*cop?,” to which he can be heard responding through his standard police issue respiratory protection equipment, “Does it matter?” Here in the cities, we referred to him as “Umbrella man,” and via six degrees of social media, we worked together diligently until in only a matter of hours, we had identified and doxxed him, by the gear he was wearing which was recognized by someone who knew him personally (his ex-wife), and the side by side comparison of his distinctive prominent heavy brow ridge, invisibly blonde eyebrows and deep set dark blue eyes were unmistakable enough for facial recognition software to confirm a match.
He is a cop. Police initially denied there was any such officer working with them, then admitted he does, though they claimed he wasn’t the same guy, naturally — but, really, what resident of a city who is enraged by police brutality and inclined to take to the streets to express his unrest about the state of affairs would carry an umbrella on a sunny day so he could be picked out even from the air, dress in tactical gear, then coolly slip through a crowd of chanters with signs just to smash windows? How stupid do they think we are???
If you’ve been following stories put out by whatever flavor of mainstream media you prefer, you might have seen a variety of media sources showing Black people (one report referred to them as “savage animals”) beating up or blasting a fire hose on a white woman in a wheelchair. What you didn’t see (but local first-hand videos that didn’t make it onto the air show) is that she could walk just fine, but she’d parked herself in a wheelchair to barricade the exit and block people from escaping a store in flames (the one cops set ablaze), and she had a knife and was stabbing people as they were running out — but only the Black folks, naturally. So, yes, not surprisingly, she was eventually attacked in retaliation — after she’d wounded dozens of others — then she got up out of her wheelchair, left it, and walked away, later giving a tearful interview, her shirt stained with the blood of her victims, about how she’d tried to save the Target from being robbed.
Your news report might not have given you that full story.
The United States has had racist presidents. In the nearly 2½ centuries since we broke free from colonialism, we’ve had bigots, nationalists, chauvinists, misogynists, ableists, religious freaks, total whackjobs, egomaniacs, bullies, cowards, hotheads, liars, phonies, hypocrites, spoiled brats, whiny babies, idiots, morons, and imbeciles who couldn’t string a coherent sentence together occupying the white house at 1600 Pennsylvania. But I suspect most historians would agree, in the history of our nation, there’s never been a point in time during which a single inhabitant of the oval office embodied each of those characteristics all at once — along with a titanic chip on his shoulder, a blatant self-centered agenda whose sole function is to serve nothing outside his own interests, a direct line of instant communication to the radically zealous base of a psychotic cult, not the first clue how even the smallest component of government operates, and an innate inability to get within the same planetary orbit of any statement resembling the truth, who has destroyed every institution he’s ever touched. When he says jump, they dive from a plane with no parachute.
When he says tiki torch bearing neo-nazis who run down crowds over the removal of loser trophy civil war monuments are “very fine people,” but uses the language of a racist segregationist inciting the race riots of 1967 as a dog whistle to refer to members of a community kneeling in prayer and singing songs together — to express our collective dissent because a man on the ground in handcuffs wheezing, “Please don’t kill me!” was lynched and murdered in broad daylight — as “THUGS,” his “very fine people” hop in their big wheel pickup trucks and head to Minneapolis to *#>@%* some *%!@@3&* *@$$* up. The rioters who came in from out of town aren’t even trying to hide it — they’re boasting like crows on social media, pandering to their supportive and adoring “fans.” Sometimes it’s just pre-game *$#!&* talking, but other times, there are pictures of what they’ve done, like serial killers with their trophies... the apparent goal, openly bragged about, and even TAUNTED directly to Black people, is to “make y’all lose your shit tonight so you can be killed with cause.”
The first couple of nights — once the police had properly kicked off the violence and got the riot ball rolling — the external influence was mostly comprised of anarchist white boys from the affluent suburbs of Minnesota... kids who just want to go out during pandemic and have some fun seeing the city burn because they’re bored from being cooped up in the house. They hide in the masses, taking the status of the situation from protest to pandemonium. Most probably fall into the red hat category, but who knows, maybe a handful might have even had good intentions and thought they were helping.
By the 3rd night, after Gossamer issued an open invitation for proud boys, rednecks, and boogaloos from all across the country to loot, pillage, and destroy us, our cities were inundated with utility vehicles sporting extreme right wing stickers coming in with out-of-state plates — by the 4th night, they were roaming around with their plates removed. (It’s a pretty safe bet no one who is an extreme right wing conservative is going to be taking a knee and saying a prayer and singing a hymn on the side of peaceful protesters.) These are not people angry about the killing of George Floyd — this is provocateurs who intend to spark a race war... the more dark bodies put down, the better.
The US has a long history of implementing this strategy, because it works. In the beginning, when the rest of the country is reeling from the tragedy — when the hurt is fresh and raw, and it’s easiest to sympathize — right wing plants show up at protests to wreak havoc, blending into large groups, using the crowds as a diversion. When anger is raging and adrenaline is high, it wouldn’t take that much to tip the scales of a peaceful protest into an out of control insurrection — especially when cops are fighting a war against citizens. That way, the reports can show everyone watching how awful “those people” are, and the injustice that started it all gets pushed to the back of the collective hive mind and forgotten.
TO ENFORCE THE LAW
In Linden Hills — a Minneapolis neighborhood a couple city grids removed from most of the “action” — a local dentist office put out a public statement about why, despite their relevant distance that one would figure might (in theory) offer some safety, they were choosing to board up their windows and shutter their doors to keep their business safe. They indicated they didn’t have a problem with the protesting or the rioting... they understood and supported the need for both. Their problem was with the police, or lack thereof.
The statement noted, businesses in Minneapolis have been in a position to have observed for some time, members of the Minneapolis Police Department ARE NOT under the command of the Mayor or the police chief. Rather than diffusing the tensions of peaceful protests, police actions have been to deliberately escalate the situation at every turn. This is a direct quote from their posted announcement:
“Their strategy seems to be: ‘Either we get to kill Black men when we feel like it with no criticism from you people, or you don’t get any law enforcement it all. Nice little city you got there... be a shame if something were to happen to it. Miss us yet?’”
Indeed, it’s as if the Minneapolis police seem to take orders only from their vocally outspoken white supremacist union leader, Bob Kroll, who regularly wears a “White Power” badge, and who has since Floyd’s arrest issued a letter praising the outstanding work of the MPD, criticizing leadership of the police, the city and the state as “incompetence” for refusing to acknowledge the department’s hard work and “shifting blame,” and declaring he intends to fight to get jobs back for all 4 cops who murdered Floyd, claiming they were not given “due process.” (The men who acted as prosecutioner, jury and executioner to enforce “street justice” are entitled to the very “due process” they denied the man they murdered.)
Minneapolis cops are so out of touch with reality, they were reportedly furious when the four officers involved with killing George Floyd were immediately fired, and even furious they were being directly criticized about it. They have responded by turning that fury against the residents of the city they have sworn to protect. I am reminded of the general attitude of the Colonel Jessup character played by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to someone who rises and sleeps under the very blanket of the safety I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it... I would rather you just said THANK YOU, and you went on your way.”
Multiple accounts from businesses and residents have reported, police in this area have pretty much abandoned their responsibilities while this turmoil is going on. Cops are seen doing nothing to stop looters or people destroying property, they just stand around watching it happen, but are quick to deploy force against anyone who tries to create a visual record of these activities or to stop the destruction. The Minneapolis Police Department is effectively no better than a mafia protection racket.
I would like to have begun that last statement with a clarification of, “at this point,” but the truth is, we got to “this point” because this has been the standard status quo for how Minneapolis has been conducting law enforcement operations for quite some time now, so the sparks created by this arrest finally caused this powder keg to erupt in an explosive enough manner to boil over... it was inevitable that something would. These cops have literally been getting away with murder for so long, they seem surprised and downright pissed that anyone would dare to complain about it. And that’s how you end up with a man kneeling on another man’s neck for 9 minutes with his hands in his pockets... he’s making a bold statement, plain as day, that he believes you can’t touch this.
US VS. THEM
The population of Minnesota is primarily comprised of generationally established Scandinavians, many of whom seem to be by nature fairly tolerant of others, if a bit stand-offish. Over time, cultural diversity has increased to a make for a colorfully attractive smorgasbord within the Twin Cities region, but we’re still mostly pretty milktoast around the rest of the state, and even in some parts of the metro area. The Minneapolis police force, though, is overwhelmingly white and male, with 92% of cops who work in the city returning at the end of a shift to residences in far off suburbs, more than a half hour’s drive away from this community.
There’s no way to maintain a sense of familiarity, connection, loyalty and trust for the people of a specific locality with a group that keeps such a distance from them, effectively setting themselves up as a master class of overseers. It is painfully obvious they don’t see their function here is to serve these people; they have no concept of “keeping peace” or maintaining law and order — they will do what they want, when they want, and no one can make them do otherwise.
In many respects, this isn’t even about race anymore — Black residents of the cities make up only 19% of its demographic, so most of the people protesting are actually white. Now it’s just a bunch of good ol boys throwing an old fashioned temper tantrum — cops are having a dick waving pissing contest on our cities over maintaining control. They are letting us know they will remain in charge as they see fit, no matter what color anyone is, and whoever doesn’t like it, had better get used to sleeping in ashes.
Swat teams in full tactical gear are combing neighborhood streets at dusk, shooting paintballs at people standing on the front porches of their own homes and discharging gas canisters through any open front doors of residences. Once the locals are buttoned up, then looters, vandals and provocateurs — most from other states — move in when the sun goes down, while police stand by and watch, then vanish once the chaos begins... they just kick back and let it all burn. The real criminals are having a field day making a party of our towns because the gossamer-in-chief poured gas on a dumpster fire for these gangsters, and they have an ally in the cops.
Waking to the news of Floyd’s death the morning after it happened, I was outraged, incensed, and downright *#>@%3&* up in the head at yet another senseless tragedy brought against an unarmed Black man by cops within the region of the Twin Cities metro — enough to spiral me into a grim cloud of dysfunction for the rest of the day, barely managing to cope as I scrolled through every new update, and at one point I just had to scream, scaring the crap out of my son, who then had to be comforted, because admittedly, he’s never seen his Mama completely lose her *$#!&* before. Yes, we’ve been down this road here in the past — this is not a new story, sadly, so I knew, to some degree, what to expect. But I never could have anticipated the magnitude of the impact the outcome of this corruption would have on such a grand scale so quickly.
After catching word online of the plan to hold a protest across the river from the scene of Floyd’s murder, in my city, at the doorstep of our home, I admit my first thought was, please, p – l – e – a – s - e... PLEASE don’t bring that devastation and destruction here! Our house is just 15 blocks from the site where not 4 years ago, Philando Castile, returning from grocery shopping with his family in his car, to go home and prepare his birthday dinner, was pulled over for matching a certain description, and shot at point blank range in front of his girlfriend and their 4-yr-old daughter, a mere 74 seconds from the moment he turned his engine off, because he dared to believe in a world where a Black man could legally carry a licensed and registered firearm in a conceal-and-carry state while driving and being Black... but the cop who stopped him took care to send a message — with 7 bullets, so as to make sure everyone knows — that world doesn’t exist. So, yeah... one of my brothers is a beat cop on the night shift in this area — and he’s one of the good ones — but the police in this area are not without blood on their hands, too.
Most of the protesting is just a little shy of where we are, so we had the luxury and the privilege of staying indoors to avoid the worst of it. If I were younger, if I didn’t have a husband at high risk to the pandemic, and a baby who needs his parents, I might have been out there with my face to the ground. But these days, any time we leave the house could be a threat to Minion’s life, because of his hypertension and heart condition, which, interestingly enough, reports say, are the exact same conditions which prevented George Floyd from being healthy enough to be choked for 9 minutes.
When Covid landed on our borders with months of foreseeable warning, the US didn’t have enough PPE or testing, but as soon as any peaceful protest includes a significant number of darker faces and bodies, our “civil servants,” whose motto is, “to serve and protect” us, are immediately at the ready with tear gas, rubber bullets, flash guns, and Mad Max level tactical gear for multiple police forces all across the country. It hasn’t been even a month since mobs of white people armed with loaded, live, semi-automatic weapons were permitted to storm multiple courthouses across the country to scream in the faces of police casually dressed in their standard uniforms, wearing only face masks as protection, with no more weaponry other than what they typically have on them... cops were even positioned in a casual, “at ease” stance, while quietly ignoring the chaos around them, like the guards at Buckingham Palace. And yet, wouldn’t you know it, somehow, not a single law enforcement officer ever felt for a moment his “personal safety was in jeopardy...” really puts perspective on our priorities on life, and a completely different take on that whole concept of the “sanctity of life,” not to mention a clear statement about which lives really matter.
By the time the weekend rolled around, and we needed a handful of groceries, my husband was unwilling for either of us to venture out on our own, for fear we might get caught in a situation we couldn’t escape (not that having his family in the car with him provided any protection for Philando Castile). The gas station on the corner, our local grocery store, and the nearest pharmacy were all was boarded up for safety and closed, with many other stores in the nearby retail center also having shuttered their windows, while remaining open because they couldn’t afford to lose the business. We had to take a 20 minute trip 10 miles away to get the few perishable staples we couldn’t do without (milk, eggs, bread, etc.).
This was an eye opener for wondering what a hardship this would be on those poverty stricken areas where most people don’t have cars to escape to larger, safer shopping facilities, and usually get around on busses which had suspended service, and could no longer walk to their corner market for basic needs, because it was now in ruins, or how folks without direct deposit on UI or SSI who depended on postal delivery for sustenance would fare once the mail stopped coming into the hood.
A popular media clip might have showed you the story of a semi trailer barreling through a crowd of protestors on one of our busiest Minnesota highways — a friend of mine who was there lost his phone running for his life from that trucker. What that report may not have informed you about is, the protest was a scheduled peaceful assembly, approved with a formal permit by the city, whose officials coordinated with local law enforcement to barricade all entrances onto that stretch of road for the duration of the pre-arranged event. Police were responsible for warranting all traffic had been cleared from the protest zone before setting up the barricades; no other organization had access to allowing vehicles onto the highway at that time, and anyone who tampered with those blockades would have had to have done so in full view of the police force guarding them.
Even more damning, the protest itself had a planned route, and followed a programmed itinerary of activities. The semi careened onto the freeway right when the crowd was taking a knee and bowing their heads in a moment of silence, according to the approved schedule. Putting 2 and 2 together for you... COPS — whether by direct action or negligence — allowed an 80K# 18-wheeled semi tanker onto a freeway packed with 5K – 6K people, at EXACTLY THE PRECISE MOMENT when they would be MOST VULNERABLE to being SLAUGHTERED.
Your news program probably didn’t mention that.
It may or may not surprise you to know, though, it’s not as easy as one might expect — even for a vehicle as powerful as a semi — to slice through a throng of thousands, and yet, fortunately, somehow, no one was seriously injured. As if by a miracle, the crowd parted like the red sea to let the weaponized carrier through, and when it finally slowed, the truck was quickly surrounded and overwhelmed by the teeming mob, who stopped any further forward momentum like a herd of walking dead, yanking the driver from the cab. This scene could easily have turned into a grizzly reminder of Reginald Denny in the LA riots, but peaceful protestors defended the driver, guarding his body with their own, protecting him from harm until he could be safely handed over to police to be taken into custody... because that’s Minnesota.
Some broadcasts might not have clarified that for you, either.
Cops on the scene, who were there to ensure the safety of the protesters, responded by tear gassing and macing them. The MN State Governor has announced the MN Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with the MN State Patrol and the MN State Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is looking into this incident as a criminal investigation, including the mishandling by law enforcement. But the wagons have been circled, and bureaucrats involved are already calling it a tragic, unintentional accident.
On a different day, my own brother might have been on that freeway, as he and his wife have made a habitual practice of participating in such demonstrations for some time; if he’d not been working at that time, he would have been there. I learned a lot from him, when I asked about this tactic sometime ago — I inquired, why harass ordinary every day people just trying to go about their lives? The general public didn’t cause these problems, and traffic commuters aren’t going to impact this situation — why not protest a police station, a mayor’s office, a governor’s mansion, or a legislative house where relevant changes that could make a difference can be made?
My big brother gently schooled me that those places are filled with people who aren’t going to lift a finger to do a thing unless it’s in the public interest, and it will never be perceived as necessary until the general public puts on enough pressure to demand change. So, yes, every day people ARE going to make the difference. Indeed, they’re the only ones who CAN.
We need to have our regular routines interrupted... We need to be broken out of the comfortable patterns of our lives, and give focus to these issues that will never go away just been we choose to ignore them. And, yes, as much as it hurts us all to admit, I’ve grown enough to appreciate, the general public DID cause these problems, and we will never be able to correct them, so long as we continue to go through our lives with our eyes and our mouths shut. As long as we choose the comfort and convenience of ignorance over action, then our silence will continue to beget more violence.
At the time of his death, DMV records showed since the day he’d first got his license, Philando Castile had been pulled over for minor traffic infringements and equipment violations 49 times — most of which were summarily dismissed as minor, nuisance infractions not even worth bothering the courts over. That’s a history of being stopped by a cop roughly every 95 days, for 13 years. Try to imagine for a moment would it be like for that kind of treatment to represent the normal routine for your world — then imagine a reality in which there’s a very strong possibility it will only be a matter of time before any of those random, easily tossed out incidents could finally be the one that kills you.
For Philando Castile, it was a legally registered licensed firearm, on traffic stop #49.
For George Floyd, it was a $20 bill he didn’t know was fake.
For Freddie Gray, it was a pocket knife — the kind carried by 174M civilians every day.
For 12-yr-old Tamir Rice, it was playing cops and robbers in the park with a toy pistol.
For Trayvon Martin, it was a pack of skittles and a hoodie.
For Botham Jean, it was a bowl of ice cream in front of the TV in his living room.
For so many others, the tiny little things we do in our ordinary lives every day that most people wouldn’t think twice about, could be what puts a biased cop or a vigilante with a gun enough over the edge to take your life... if you’re Black. And, if your killer is white, then that might be the end of it. A mock trial will be held, in which a three ring dog and pony circus makes a scene of pretending anyone cares, and your name will be added to a list of the martyred... because that’s just the way things are.
What do we tell our children when compliance and evidence doesn’t matter? When guilt or innocence doesn’t matter? When our outrage doesn’t matter?
This is not justice for all. This does not meet the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This is why we protest.
When the thunderous roar of hate is deafening, love cannot remain silent.
We must speak the truth and shame the devil. And MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD.
MAKE THEM HEAR YOU
Go out and tell our story... Let it echo far and wide...
How justice was our battle, and how justice was denied.
And say to those who blame us for the way we chose to fight,
...that sometimes there are battles that are more than black or white.
And I could not put down my sword when justice was my right.
Make them hear you... make them hear you.
Go out and tell our story to your daughters and your sons,
and tell them, in our struggle, we were not the only ones.
Your sword could be a sermon, or the power of your pen.
Teach every child to raise his voice, and then, my brothers... then
...will justice be demanded by ten million righteous men.
Make them HEAR you. MAKE them hear you.
Give the people a day of peace, a day of pride...
...a day of justice we have been denied.
Let the new day dawn, we pray...
We shall not know heaven till we reach that day.
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 23 - Topic: RUNNING FROM OUR PROBLEMS
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
This work represents one half of the collaborative effort put forth by “DarmaDo," the creative team of Dadi and KarmaSoup. The challenge was to choose a partner with whom to create an "intersection" of correlated entries. As our fates are intertwined, please be sure to check out her contribution on this theme:
THE PAINFUL TRUTH
And please don't pass up the chance to give a shout out to my lovely partner, as she has demonstrated such patience and grace throughout this incredibly crazy week, despite being more or less thrown under the bus as the world came crashing down around us by my inability to find the mental focus to write on anything else but this. Our original plan hand been to make a connection over shared family histories — tales of an extended family member of hers and mine. Honestly, there’s nothing I would have loved better... But this is a part of my family’s history now.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on…
ISAK ABDIRAHMAN ADEN | JOHN ADAMS | CARLOS ALCIS | RAYMOND ALLEN | WENDELL ALLEN | TANISHA ANDERSON | ALONZO ASHLEY | AHMAUD AUBREY | JORDAN BAKER | ORLANDO BARLOW | RONALD BEASELY | SEAN BELL | JAMES BLAKE | SANDRA BLAND | THURMAN BLEVINS | REKIA BOYD | DANZIGER BRIDGE | RUMAIN BRISBON | JAMES BRISSETTE | RAHEIM BROWN | JOSEPH BURKE-MONERVILLE | MALIKA CALHOUN | AARON CAMPBELL | MIRIAM CAREY | CHAVIS CARTER | PHILANDO CASTILE | KENNETH CHAMBERLAIN | WILLIAM CHAPMAN, II | JAMAR CLARK | STEPHON CLARK | MCKENZIE COCHRAN | JOHN CRAWFORD, III | TERRENCE CRUTCHER | REYNALDO CUEVAS | ROBERT DAVIS | RONALD DAVIS | SHANTEL DAVIS | JORDAN DAVIS | AMADOU DIALLO | NEHEMIAH DILLARD | PATRICK DORISMAND | REGINALD DOUCET | SAM DUBOSE | SHARMEL EDWARDS | JORDAN EDWARDS | DEAUNTA TERREL FARROW | MALCOM FERGUSON | JONATHAN FERRELL | GEORGE FLOYD | JAMEL FLOYD | DEION FLUDD | EZELL FORD | SHEREESE FRANCIS | SHELLY FREY | ERIC GARNER | HENRY GLOVER | RAMARLEY GRAHAM | OSCAR GRANT | KIMANI GRAY | FREDDIE GRAY | AKAI GURLEY | KENNETH HARDING | KIWANE HARRINGTON | DARNISHA HARRIS | ERIC HARRIS | KOBE HEISLER | DANROY HENRY, JR. | JUSTIN HOWELL | JESUS HUERTA | DONOVAN JACKSON | LARRY EUGENE JACKSON | KENDRA JAMES | BOTHAM JEAN | ERVIN JEFFERSON | ATATIANA JEFFERSON | KATHRYN JOHNSTON | PRINCE JONES | DERRICK JONES | COREY JONES | JEREMY LAKE | SGT. MANUEL LOGGINS, JR. | ABNER LOUIMA | RONALD MADISON | TRAYVON MARTIN | DAVID MCATEE | RENISHA MCBRIDE | KENDRIC MCDADE | JEREMY MCDOLE | DYMOND MILBURN | ROBERT MITCHELL | SEAN MONTERROSA | ALBERT MOSELY | EARL MURRAY | DANTE PARKER | NOEL POLANCO | KAJIEME POWELL | DANTE PRICE | TAMIR RICE | TAYMON ROBINSON | LUIS RODRIGUEZ | GILBERT SALAS | KEITH SCOTT | WALTER SCOTT | YVETTE SMITH | ALBERTA SPRUILL | AIYANA STANLEY-JONES | TIMOTHY STANSBURY | VICTOR STEEN | ALTON STERLING | STRATFORD HIGH SCHOOL | BREONNA TAYLOR | EMMETT TILL | ALESIA THOMAS | TIMOTHY THOMAS | SHEM WALKER | JOHNNIE KAMAHI WARREN | STEVEN WASHINGTON | DAVID WASHINGTON | VICTOR WHITE, III | JESSIE LEE WILLIAMS, JR. | MALISSA WILLIAMS | TARIKA WILSON | TYREE WOODSON | OUSMANE ZONGO