Black Lives Do Not Matter – to the Police

I haven’t been able to sleep well the past two nights. I keep having dreams that I’m stuck in a tight space, and I wake up yelling, hands and arms flailing. So, I looked it up. One interpretation suggests this dream “claustrophobia may be a sign that you feel a problem in your life is impossible to escape from or becoming too limiting to bear.”

Hmmm.

That sums up the George Floyd situation damn near perfectly, hey?

I feel like every week there’s a new petition for me to sign, a new hashtag for me to absorb, along with some disgusting visual. It’s endless. This week it’s an utterly unbothered police officer’s knee on a dying black man’s neck. We didn’t see the imagery of Derek Chauvin’s now fired cronies standing by watching, nor the image of the other ones who held down Floyd’s waist and feet.

george floyd 2I’m happy to sign the petitions. They work – to a degree. But the progress that occurs as a result of heightened media scrutiny, while limited, is encouraging. It suggests that public opinion has power. Now we just need to take it to the next level and punish the offenders, swiftly, and consistently, and create policies and laws to ensure the penalties for this behavior are so steep, it acts as a deterrent.

I don’t mean call these creatures out. I don’t mean fire them either. That is the bear minimum of what should happen to those who perpetuate hate crimes — and I consider race-related brutality from police a systemically perpetrated, procedurally enforced, hate crime.

That would be some interesting legislation to pass. To make that true and not just a line in a blog. I wonder would it make it easier to prosecute these murderers in taxpayer funded uniforms?

That is so galling to me. Knowing that black taxpayer’s dollars are paying the salaries of the people – not people, demons – who regularly and repeatedly brutalize and murder black people.

You may think that’s harsh to call a human being a demon. But I think it’s unutterably harsh to ignore a man’s pleas for his life, to ignore bystanders pleas for his life, to lean all of your racist body weight on a vulnerable part of his inert body, kill him with impunity, ignore that you are being filmed because really who cares?, and then go unpunished for days. That is not human behavior. Demons do that. This is not Chauvin’s first offense of this nature. He, like many criminals, is a repeat offender.

My brother lives in Minnesota and knew George Floyd. He described him as a very nice man. If two people were having an argument, George would be the one to say, “Stop that, man. Work it out.” He told me that George knew actually Derek Chauvin, the creature who killed him. They worked security together at a Mexican restaurant for years. What must he have been thinking in those last minutes of his life, knowing that an acquaintance could treat him so cruelly?

Is it any wonder I’m having trouble sleeping?

My empathy for black men increases by the day! A friend told me that our brothers must exist in a constant state of PTSD, and it makes perfect sense. How could you not suffer some sort of mental anguish knowing how vulnerable you are? Knowing that without any real provocation your life could be snuffed out in minutes for little of nothing. Knowing that there is nothing that you can do, nothing you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a hashtag and having your dignity stripped away in the last moments of your life, broadcast without your or your family’s permission. The weight of that invisible bullseye otherwise known as your skin…Lord have mercy.

Chauvin has been charged, finally. But there’s no point in speculating on the exact nature of his punishment until the trial concludes, and the judge has rendered a verdict. We all know things could yet go awry, that justice may still be subverted.

At the end of the day, one demon is still one demon. What about the corrective actions needed on a systemic level across this country, not just in the state of Minnesota, to ensure that black people can stop signing petitions to beg the law to do its job on our behalf? What about the legislation I mentioned? What about fixing this problem at the root?

The actor Jamie Foxx posted a video of a presumably drunken white man fighting with two white police officers on his Instagram feed. Not only did they get beat up trying to subdue him, he got away and stole their police car. He’s still alive though, which is the point.

The people of Minneapolis have reacted to this violence with violence. I’m supposed to say that I don’t condone burning down the police station where those former police officers worked. But I understand it. It shouldn’t take four days to arrest and charge a murderer. And as of this writing his accomplices should not be walking free.

Those accomplices who stood by and watched as George Floyd slowly died at their feet should receive similar charges. At the end of the day, whether your hand or your knee was responsible, you’re guilty by association. It happens all the time. Those who are caught in connection with crimes, crimes far less permanent than murder, receive similar punishments as the direct perpetrator. These fired police officers should be no different. Only when there are swift and brutal consequences for brutal and criminal actions will this type of behavior stop.

I’m tired. I’m tired of not sleeping because I’m traumatized. I’m tired of hashtags, petitions, and watching these modern day snuff films. But I’ll keep signing, and blogging, and praying that my people can rise above these determined and quasi-successful efforts to prove that black lives do not matter.

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