Eleventh Week

One event dominates this week, and it only tangentially relates to the novel coronavirus, George Floyd’s death as a policeman was filmed with his knee to Floyd’s neck. It was surreal to hear again that the plea,”I can’t breathe!” was ignored. Apparently Milwaukee ( edited to Minneapolis)police have learned nothing from the death of Eric Garner, nothing except that police can be acquitted.

The only possible reaction was to gather in vigil and protest. Milwaukee (edited to Minneapolis) did. And Louisville where grief doubled with grief and anger for the killing of Breonna Taylor. And other cities. And Portland.

I had felt safe going because of the announcement’s emphasis on space and masks. (Organizers walked among the people handing out masks to those without. ) And the bus ride was short. And it was outside on a windy day.

It started out socially distanced, though by the time they marched people looked more clustered. One paper estimated about 1000 attended and several hundred marched. By staying on the fringes to lessen contact, I didn’t hear many of the speeches. What I did hear included both somber tone and anger.

Portland has reason to be angry beyond solidarity with Milwaukee (edited to Minneapolis). We also have too many shootings (usually fatal) of unarmed people (usually black). Grief piles on grief.

I stayed about an hour then headed home. (I move too slowly to do the march portion.) On the way out I saw names of other victims chalked along the sidewalk and this observation.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Eleventh Week

  1. Perhaps it takes demonstrations such as we’re seeing on TV. I think the grief, pain and anger need an outlet because moderation, reason and non-violent demonstration haven’t worked any time these 400 years.
    “Prejudices are rarely overcome by argument; not being founded in reason, they cannot be overcome by logic.”
    “Right actions in the future are the best apology for bad actions in the past.” Tryon Edwards

    • We can hope. It is clear that moderation, reason, and non-violence don’t bring change. When I heard that even police were criticizing the extreme, prolonged knee to neck, I had a flicker of hope for change. Then I started to read of brutal crowd suppression tactics in various cities and the flicker sputtered.

      Demilitarizing police culture is one thing that must happen. Whites seeing blacks as equals is another. I must find more ways to deal with my socialization into undeserved white privilege.

      A Sweet Honey on the Rock song has been running through my head today—I remember the drift but not the exact rhythm of the phrasing: We who believe in freedom cannot rest until the death of a black mother’s son hurts as much as that of a white mother’s son.

  2. Jeanne

    This has been so sad, so frustrating, and so frightening. The law enforcement around our area is very upset and they are being vocal about the guilt of the officers in Minneapolis. They, like us, want justice for Mr. Floyd, I haven’t heard about recent problems in Milwaukee; Mr. Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. Thankfully the majority of law enforcement officers are good, respectful people. Mr. Chauvin, the ex-officer arrested, has brought to public view, a major problem in the Minneapolis Police Department. I hope other departments look at this and do some internal inspections and make changes where needed. Our nation needs to be a better place and I think we must all work together as equals to make it better.

    • Thanks for the correction! For some reason I always switch those two cities in my head.

      Yes, police reform is needed. I have read that there is an effort to get appropriate levels of response. In Minneapolis, I think it is one demand of the protesters; at least it appears in petitions I have been asked to sign that list defunding the police. In Portland there is a small trial of sending social workers or other professionals instead of armed police to answer calls involving emotional/mental crises.

  3. Betty Colburn

    I am glad you got to peninsula park and back safely on Friday night. I look at the news and read analysis but feel uncertain what is going on. It looks as though long felt anger and grief are bubbling to the surface from disparate groups all at the same time and all over the US.

    • As I see it there are those who are expressing genuine grief, anger and frustration. And there are white nationalist opportunists. When I heard of marchers’ destruction of black owned businesses in Portland, my antennas were up.

  4. I look with horror at the developments in the US. The looting and destruction is stupid and won’t help this important cause. But using the federal army against (peaceful) protesters? Seriously??? Already more people have died during these protests, it saddens me.

    • While I am sympathetic to the rage that expresses frustration with absence of change, however it is expressed, I wish the press would keep the focus on the issues: the overpolicing of black bodies, the militarization of police, the overfunding of police at the expense of education and other needed services. And yes the bluster from the White House is appalling.

  5. “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed” certainly is true, but I have to wonder WHY after all these years racism hasn’t gotten much better.

  6. Great post, glad you got to participate in the peaceful protest and that was cool they were handing out masks. Oh I love Sweet Honey in the Rock – I saw them in concert once when I lived in Seattle – they are amazing, my favorite song of theirs in Battered Earth about how Mother Earth would like to escape all the abuse by humans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Ja6AdHvbU

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