Sunday, July 10, 2016

Black Lives Matter

A few years ago our son, on the way to community college, reached to the floor of his car to get a kleenex and as he did this his car swerved, hit a small sign for the median. He was a young driver and he didn't know what to do. He wanted to get to class on time so he just kept driving. Unbeknownst to him an off-duty police officer was near him in traffic and took it upon himself to follow our son all the way to school; 20 minutes away. He called for back up at some point and when our son pulled into the parking lot he was met with two police cars.  The off-duty officer's reasoning was that he thought our son was drunk or high even though he followed him all the way to school and he made no other traffic errors. He didn't swerve, cross the yellow line, or any other traffic violations.

Tristan was freaked out by this incident. After the on-duty officers spoke with him and ascertained that he was not drunk (at 9:30 am) and that he just had a cold he was allowed to head in for class. Our family, while generally law-abiding citizens, thought the off-duty officer was a little overzealous. Why didn't he just snap a photo of our son's licence plate? After all that we paid a nominal fee to have a new sign added back to the median. Thankfully that was it.

When I think of this crazy incident though and think about how scared my son felt that this guy in the oversized black pick-up was purposefully following him and it makes me realize how all American citizens with many shades of brown/black would feel in this situation. My son might have been scared and confused but he didn't fear for his life.

The video above from the NYT encapsulates the bloodshed based on skin tone.  Each one is violent and freaks me out how easily guns are blasted off as if they are playing a video game and not real life. Reaching for your wallet, errant teenagers leaving a pool in swim suits, a man selling CDs, a boy playing with a fake gun, a young man throwing rocks; all just people going about their day, not one a violent criminal yet dead at the end of the day.

I know the teens in swimsuits were not shot at but why in God's glory would police officers need to pull their weapons on teens in bathing suits. Warn them and move on. It looks like a scene from the 1960s not 2015.

I attended a vigil for #Orlando a few weeks ago and I have to admit I felt fear as I stood in the park surrounded by many like-minded friends and neighbors.  Bordering the park were streets with drivers, some who honked and waved and some who revved their engines purposefully as they raced by us.

Years ago our family stood at many street corners protesting against Bush's Iraq war. We knew it was a senseless war, planned for oil, not weapons of mass destruction. Often as we stood there, vulnerable, we had people in cars harass us, point, curse, scream horrible comments to us yet it was important for us to make our stand.

Each one of us needs to take a stand now to make this better. We need police communities to become much more sensitive through training/education. We need officers who do shoot to kill to face criminal charges.  We need local governments to take this seriously. We do seriously need gun control. Citizens armed with a variety of weapons, police officers armed and ready to shoot; we are getting nowhere fast!

Most Americans are interested in real freedom for all. #blacklivesmatter because we all matter. We are human. We need to stand together even if we are afraid.

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