The Summerland Advocate-Messenger - Reliable, Trustworthy Reporting, Capturing The Heartbeat Of Our Community

By LuAnn Schindler
Publisher 

-Isms: Views on life in rural America

 


One of the most fitting quotes I have read concerning protests for the death of George Floyd is the simple truth.

“Speaking out against white supremacy and race-based violence does not make you anti-white, anti-police, right or left. It makes you pro justice, pro all lives, pro accountability and pro racial equality. Caring about the life of another isn’t political. It’s human.”

Somewhere, in the midst of seven days of chaos since Derek Chauvin spent eight minutes and 46 seconds pressing his knee against George Floyd’s neck, leading to Floyd’s death, many have lost sight of the human element of this case.

A human being lost his life in a most senseless way. Outrage about the nature of the killing is a natural response. Staging a protest, within the realm of constitutional rights, is appropriate.

But somewhere between quiet sit-ins near the sight of Floyd’s death, where a makeshift memorial has been constructed, and the first fires that flared across the Minneapolis skyline, the intent of the protests lost focus. That is an unfortunate truth.

I believe in the right to assemble and protest peacefully. That right, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, is not absolute.

Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham (1969) prohibits government officials from prohibiting a public assembly at their own discretion. However, officials may impose restrictions on time, place and manner of peaceful assembly, based on the 1989 case, Ward v. Rock Against Racism. To stage a protest, a license may be required. The 2002 case, Thomas v. Chicago Park District, establishes requirements to obtain a permit.

Peaceful protest can make a powerful and effective statement.

What doesn’t make a powerful statement? Inciting violence.

The wave of destruction and disregard for life and property shown by some protesters is beyond comprehension. Violence and destruction are not constructive measures. You forfeit any semblance of credibility when you break windows in businesses, resulting in millions of dollars in damage, causing mom and pop storefronts to close their doors for good.

Yelling obscenities at police officers does not create goodwill. Tossing a flash bang toward officials doesn’t make you stronger; it makes you look weak, devoid of any confidence in yourself or the cause in which you are fighting for.

Wreaking havoc on your community does not bring back the person for whom you are championing a cause. Instead, it ruins any sense of trust that could have been built.

What happened in Minneapolis is a horrible travesty. Officers involved need to be accountable for the part they played in Floyd’s death.

But what has transpired in other cities across the nation - and in Nebraska - is equally disturbing. An Omaha man was killed in a skirmish in the Old Market. In Lincoln, more than $1 million of damage occurred along a four-block stretch of the Lincoln Mall, which runs from the Lancaster City-County Building to the state capitol.

A bright light came Monday evening, in Lincoln, when a state trooper kneeled with protesters for nine minutes, starting a dialogue, listening to concerns.

Applause clamored through the streets, a glimmer that proves if we could spread love as quickly as we spread hate and negativity, what an amazing world we would have.

 

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