It’s been a bizarre year, but the United States always finds a way to make a bad situation worse. The pandemic washed over Europe and Asia, where life is now returning to business as usual. Restaurants are full and borders are opening for travel, but in the United States, a reality that is somehow far worse than the deadly pandemic is playing out: an unprecedented assault on the constitutional right to due process and even more disturbing attack on people’s right to protest.
Imagine how insulting it is to American citizens who spent weeks and months trying to get access to coronavirus testing and treatment, to healthcare workers that have been working with limited protective equipment, and to minorities who have been dying at a disproportionate rate to their white counterparts, that 36 hours after protests broke out over the unjust murder of a man accused of using a fake $20 bill, the National Guard was activated in at least 23 states in full riot gear, assault weapons, and armored cars. Imagine having lost your job two months ago when the government gave out a measly $1200 check, only to see how much money they’re willing to spend to wage an actual war against its own citizens on the streets of the United States. All to avoid holding bad cops responsible for a reprehensible act. They could have charged four guilty police officers, but opted to do this instead.
Share widely: National guard and MPD sweeping our residential street. Shooting paint canisters at us on our own front porch. Yelling “light em up” #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #JusticeForGeorge #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/bW48imyt55
— Tanya Kerssen (@tkerssen) May 31, 2020
So this is where we are now… in the middle of a full-blown pandemic getting shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed in the street by the same forces whose fancy Kevlar and protective facemasks our taxes pay for (Where were these facemasks when doctors and nurses were dying?) People have been left with no other choice, and many of them have nothing else they need to be doing because 36 million Americans are out of a job as a result of how inept and inadequate the country’s response to coronavirus has been.
A lot of people are crying out about the senseless destruction of property and those people would probably do well to reassess their values. A department store or a park bench is replaceable but a human life is not. Storefronts can be repainted, windows can be replaced, but we can’t bring back the lives of people who have been murdered at the hands of racist cops. And we can’t keep sitting idle while the American police force tramples black people to death with impunity.
Probably also not a bad idea to open your eyes and see that as much as we want to blame angry protestors, cops are doing a lot of the damage (as above) and inciting a lot of the violence (as below).
The FBI asked for assistance finding the people inciting violence at protests, so we went ahead and helped. You’re welcome https://t.co/yIty2YW9hP
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) June 2, 2020
That’s why this is happening, because the peaceful protests people have been trying for the past four years didn’t work. Black people were told not to kneel because it was unpatriotic. People were fired for refusing to sing the national anthem, as if we live in Communist China. Commemorative hashtags piled up for dead Americans but nothing changed. The chaos that is consuming the country right now is what happens when you reap what you sow. It’s what happens when you maintain systems in place that systematically oppress black and brown people. It’s what happens when you create a society where it is every man for himself and where corporations are treated as more important than people.
On Saturday, Prague will march in peaceful support against police brutality and in memory of George Floyd, as people have marched in the UK and in France and in New Zealand. I remember when the US was the human rights watchdog in the world, when they would march in solidarity of civil rights violations and war crimes abroad. Now the world is watching the shocking scenes in the United States instead and seeing videos of police spraying a chemical agent on people who are kneeling silently or seeing people lose their eyes because of rubber bullets, and we are horrified. We are marching because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” You don’t have to be black to understand that black lives deserve to be valued, the same way you don’t need to have a daughter to know that rape is wrong, or be a Hispanic to know that people’s children don’t deserve to be ripped from their parents for crossing the border, or be gay to understand why two same sex partners should have the right to marry. Despite living elsewhere in the world, the atrocities the US is committing also affect us. Like it’s affecting all Americans.
If you think that income inequality doesn’t affect you because you’re middle class…
If you think that police brutality doesn’t affect you because you’re not a target…
If you think that not having universal health care doesn’t affect you because you’re covered through your job…
If you think that racism doesn’t affect you because you’re not a minority…
If you thought Hillary was just as bad as Trump…
…then I hope you don’t need to go to your neighborhood Target anytime soon.