I was wrong about peaceful protests

Up until quite recently I thought and said things to decry the violence and looting that too often infiltrated peaceful protests. I empathized with the pain experienced by the protestors, but cautioned them against stepping beyond the line between respect and criminality.

I was wrong to do so.

By focusing on these people and their actions and their feelings—rather than on the murder of their brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, family, friends, community members—I was tacitly complicit in turning attention away from the real problem.

The fault lies not with the protestors, but with the American system that gives permission to authority to abuse them and murder them. The fault lies with police officers who consider them less than. The fault lies with police departments who hire and train officers who continue policies rooted in racism. The fault lies with cities who fail their citizens at the most fundamental level. The fault lies with politicians and it lies with all of us who can look the other way when it isn’t us who are dying.

There may be “anarchists” out there taking advantage of the situation to commit crimes, but the proximate cause—the spur and the permission—for their actions is not the protests, it is the systemic and systematic persecution and murder of our black citizens by authority.

I will no longer be part of a white and privileged population that helps to turn attention away from the crimes of authority to the reactions of a repressed population. The story is not the protests, the story is the murders. The story is the laws designed to control and “other” a part of us. The story is the social policies which place white citizens, needs, and concerns above black ones. The story is every black parent who has had to have “the talk” with their sons and daughters rather than white parents having to do their DAMN jobs and raise good people.

And the story needs to be told.

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