It is sad what the United States has become in just a short period of time. As we look at the destruction created by the looting and vandalism in the past few days, it is disturbing to see how much anger and hurt is harbored by so many of our citizens.
In truth, this is not a hurt or anger created by only George Floyd’s death, when a white officer pushed a knee into his neck for 8+ minutes, resulting in his death. This came only a few months after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, who was attacked and gunned down by two white men while out for a jog. It took months for those men to be charged with a crime, and only after a video of the incident went viral on social media.
The protests being waged following Mr. Floyd’s death are the result of pent-up anger that has continued to grow as black people are disproportionately killed by white law enforcement officers. Blacks make up 13% of the U.S. population, but are 2-1/2 times more likely to be killed by police.
What is further infuriating is that in many cases the officers are not charged for having committed a crime. If charged many are found not guilty.
A huge problem in this country is the blue wall of silence, also referred to as the blue code of honor. This is a silent code under which police officers stay silent, refusing to report other officers who exercise misconduct, criminal behavior, discrimination, police brutality, or any other unethical action. Body cameras and bystanders recording on their cell phone cameras are finally bringing some of this to light.
I was very pleased to see the Minneapolis Police Chief remove his hat and kneel at the spot where George Floyd’s life was taken, and also remove his hat when he answered their questions on the news. This shows him to be a person of moral and ethical character.
When questioned the police chief stated that he fired of all four officers because the other three officers, by not intervening, were complicit with Derek Chauvan having his knee in the neck of George Floyd for 8+ minutes, resulting in death. Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with 3rd degree murder and manslaughter. The other officers have not been charged.
I have seen many cities where police officers are walking with demonstrators or kneeling with them in prayer. This shows that not all law enforcement condone the behavior of the bad, but it is not enough to heal the pain that has been going on for too long.
It was only a short 12 years ago that this country reached a milestone when it elected Barack Obama as President of the United States. This country, with its horrible history of slavery, racial oppression and discrimination, had elected a black man into its highest-ranking position. That said a lot for how far our country had come.
Barack Obama served for 8 years as president. During his presidency there were several high-profile deaths of black Americans engaged in encounters with the police and protests led to rioting:
- Oscar Grant, a black transit passenger, was shot by a white police officer. Riots broke out in Oakland, California. The officer, Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
- George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, and riots broke out in Los Angeles.
- Manuel Diaz, a 25-year old black man, was shot to death when he ran from police. Destructive demonstrations broke out in Orange County, California.
- Kimini Gray, a 16-year old, was killed by police after allegedly pointing a handgun at them. Riots broke out in Brooklyn, New York.
The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013. It was created to give black people a voice in civil rights. Issues included a broken criminal justice system and a higher unemployment level among black Americans. Those problems still exist today.
Black Lives Matter believes in peaceful demonstrations. They do not participate nor do they encourage looting and violent acts like those taking place today.
George Floyd’s Two Autopsies
After the autopsy of George Floyd’s death indicated he died from underlying health conditions, not from the loss of breath created by a knee on his neck for 8+ minutes, people were angry and upset. His family ordered an independent autopsy.
That independent autopsy determined George Floyd’s death was caused by “asphyxiation from sustained pressure”. The difference in the two determinations makes one question whether the first medical examiner works frequently with the police and is part of the “code of blue.” Both medical examiners ruled the death a homicide.
Where We Stand on Race
In 2016 a survey showed 56% of white Americans said the race of a subject made no difference in the use of police force, but only 18% of black Americans believed that to be true. More than 2/5 of black people said that police in their community made them feel more anxious than safe.
U.S. citizens, looking for change, elected Donald Trump in 2016. A non-politician, non-military, public figure who promised to Make America Great Again. The question now comes to mind, Is America at War With Itself?
There continues to be racial divide in this country on how people are viewed based on the color of their skin. There is inequity that results in black people being disproportionately injured or killed by white police officers.
The fact that we have protestors trying to storm the White House and destroying Secret Service vehicles says a lot about what a lot of Americans feel toward President Trump.
Where else in American history can you recall riots where Washington DC monuments were defaced?
Where the Treasury Department was attacked?
Where the White House was at risk of being breached by protestors?
When Chopper One lands at the White House lawn and is greeted by protestors with their middle fingers raised?
Why is former Vice President Joe Biden was out speaking with protestors while President Donald Trump is hiding in a bunker under the White House?
Trump Administration and Racism
It is likely that a culmination of numerous factors has led to the anger displayed toward President Trump. We are all familiar with his tweets that repeatedly insult people, make racial slurs, and instigate violent acts.
American people have come to realize what a strong racist their President is. Mayors of cities undergoing riots have asked President Trump to be quiet. To stop posting comments on Twitter that instill violence. To stop posting racial comments from the 1968 racial riots.
It isn’t all about tweets and verbal comments. His tendency toward discrimination against those of non-white ethnicity screams out from his campaign and administration:
- In 2016 there was a strong correlation between Trump campaign events and acts of violence. Data from the Anti-Defamation League showed that counties hosting Trump campaign rallies had more than double the hate crimes than similar counties that did not host a rally.
- Counties that voted for Donald Trump by the widest margins experienced the largest increase of reported hate crimes.
- Surrounding the election of Donald Trump, hate crimes peaked from October to December 2016 and continued through 2017. This was the second largest increase in hate crimes in 25 years. The highest increase in hate crimes followed September 11, 2011.
- Quinnipiac University released a poll that states 80% of African-American voters feel Donald Trump is a racist. 55% of Hispanics feel Trump is a racist, and 51% of all Americans feel he has racist views.
- In August 2019 President Donald Trump spoke at the 400th anniversary of the year slaves first arrived on American soil. His behavior prior to his arrival resulted in the Black Caucus of the Virginia legislature boycotting his appearance. In doing so they stated “It is impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the President represents” and referred to his “repeated attacks on black legislators and comments about black communities” and they felt he was an “ill-suited” choice to commence that monumental period in American history.
- The Trump Administration is working to roll back President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat racial segregation. This roll-back would make it easier for banks to deny loans to black and Hispanic people. It would also make it easier for cities to confine families to minority neighborhoods.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has in 2020 proposed cutting back data collection that helps track discrimination in the mortgage market. In 2015 the Obama administration began tracking patterns of poverty and segregation with a checklist of 92 questions that had to be completed to access federal housing funds. The Trump administration is trying to eliminate that tracking system. Of concern is that the Trump financial regulator could encourage banks to invest in inner city projects such as sporting arenas instead of loans that benefit local residents.
- Black home ownership is at its lowest rate since segregation was legal. White rate is about 73% and black rate under 43%.
- Housing discrimination complaints rose 8% in 2018, as reported by the National Fair Housing Alliance. This is the highest level since tracking started in 1995.
Trump Admnistration Civil and Human Rights Rollbacks
Between 2017 to 2020 there have been at least 79 Trump Administration Civil and Human Rights Rollbacks. Many of those rollbacks have a direct impact on low-income and racial minorities, which include:
* In February 2017 President Trump signed three executive orders to fight crime, gangs, and drugs, and restore law and order, supporting the men and women of law enforcement. Civil rights organizations viewed these orders as vague and suspicious.
* In August 2017 the Obama administration ban was lifted regarding the transfer of some military surplus items to domestic law enforcement, rescinding guidelines that had been created to protect the public from law enforcement’s misuse of military-grade weapons.
* In August 2017 the Trump administration halted the EEOC rule that required large companies to reveal what they pay employees by sex, race, and ethnicity. The rule was intended to remedy unequal pay in American companies.
* In September 2017 the Department of Justice ended the Community Oriented Policing Services Collaborative Reform Initiative. This program was created to build trust between police officers and the communities where they serve.
* In February 2018 the Trump administration’s 2019 budget proposal denied critical health care to those in need. The funding was being diverted to funding the border wall.
* In February 2018 the Trump Administration’s 2019 budget proposal eliminated the Community Relations Service which was established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its purpose was to address discrimination, conflicts and tensions in communities around the country.
* In 2018 The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education released a new Case Processing Manual that created a larger hurdle for people filing complaints. It allows for the dismissal of civil rights complaints based on the number of times an individual has filed.
* In January 2019 the Trump administration was considering a roll-back of regulations that provide anti-discrimination protections to people of color, women and others.
* In January 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration had stopped cooperating with and responding to UN investigators over potential human rights violations in the United States.
* In April 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration would not nominate nor re-nominate anyone to the 18-member U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
* In January 2020 the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a proposal that would gut the agency’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. HUD’s proposal would leave people of color, women, and protected communities already harmed by unfair and unequal housing policies at further risk.
Heal the Country
There is a very strong divide in this country. Racial discrimination and violence are at the heart of it. We are a country divided, and it needs to be healed. There is a Michael Jackson song that says in part:
Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make a better place for you and for me
When Will it Stop?
We are now in our 7th day of protests, vandalism and looting. When will it stop? It is hard to say. We have had a President hiding in a bunker tweeting words that incite violence. We have more than 37 cities in 22 states plus Washington DC destroyed.
It is time federal and state legislatures took action to make sure that the rights of every person in the United States are protected. Treatment and protection need to be equal regardless of whether a person is White, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Jewish, Black, or any other nationality.
This country was built by being accepting of all, a melting pot of immigrants that created a wonderfully diverse country. It is time laws were in place that guaranteed equal treatment for all. Until that is done and people are satisfied that their lives matter, history will continue to repeat itself.
Update: As this writing was being finalized President Trump spoke in the Rose Garden. Lafayette Park across from the White House was filled with peaceful protesters. Suddenly right before the speech law enforcement moved in, using tear gas and rubber bullets to force the peaceful protestors out of the park. Why?
It soon came to light. President Trump’s announced that he is deploying the 1807 law to deploy military then commented he was going to a special place.
Those peaceful protestors had been gassed and shot at by law enforcement because President Trump was walking through the park to St. John’s Church for a photo op.
Almost immediately the DC Episcopal Bishop denounced President Trump’s use of St. John’s Church as a prop. The Bishop stated that after having military police fire munitions against peaceful protestors President Trumps actions were an abuse of a sacred space.
And So We Continue
The anger continues. People want the remaining three officers involved in George Floyd’s murder charged. They want equal treatment by law enforcement. They want a justice system that is just.
It is up to the United States citizens to regain control of their country. It is time this country becomes what it was created to be, a melting pot. Many cultures living together, all on equal ground. Equal and just treatment for all races.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one….from Imagine by John Lennon.