Don’t Lose The Message

In our first issue back, I wanted to thank folks for supporting us during quarantine because of COVID-19, but because of recent events I find myself angry as many people do and need to address it. 

You’d have to be in a coma to not know what I’m talking about: the murders of Breonna Taylor in Louisville Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County Georgia, and George Floyd in Minneapolis Minnesota. Two committed by on-duty police officers and one by a former officer and son. 

Floyd’s murder — and let’s be clear that’s what it was — is especially heinous, not that it takes away from the other two victims or the murders of black folks in this country by police for as long as I can remember, but because we saw it in broad daylight on social media, the cop who had his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck while three other officers stood by and did absolutely nothing, even when Mr. Floyd gasped “ I can’t breath ” and bystanders implored the officers to stop they just kept going. Watch the damn video, even if you’ve seen it already, try to feel it. Feel what I and all my brothers and sisters feel? Feel the rage? Good then you know how we’ve felt for years. 

It took me back to Eric Garner’s murder in New York City in 2014 by police. He also told officers “I can’t breath” when one officer put him in a chokehold and several others wrestled him to the ground, the officer kept him in a chokehold and other officers did nothing.  That video, too, is still out there. Watch it. 

Since these murders there have been peaceful protests. Along with those protests, there have been riots and looting, instigated by outside forces. But many have also started because of overzealous police officers. They have used vehicles as weapons and attacked protesters with pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets. 

In one incident in Louisville, a man was killed by the police during a protest for both Floyd and Taylor. According to the officers, the man was shooting at them from his barbecue place; the officer’s body cams were turned off during the shooting, I don’t know about you but that seems just a tad sketchy. 

Journalists have also been attacked and arrested by police, who seem to know no bounds in what they will do. Children have been attacked by police who don’t seem to care who gets hit by rubber bullets or tear gas. And then you have the one I like to call “the game show host posing as President Of the United States of America” making threats to send in the military to attack American citizens. He actually has police and the National Guard attack and drive out a peaceful protest in the park across from the White House, so he can stroll as if he’s in a Hollywood production of the West Wing across said park to a church to lift up a Bible for a mindless photo op. Somewhere in that big blue White House in the sky, former presidents are rolling with peels of teenage laughter. 

And the mainstream media? Well, they are focusing on the riots and the looting and the childish actions of their President, hoping you will be caught up in all of it and forget about the real message here. 

That’s what they, the ruling class, want. They want us all to forget that systemic racism in this country is what got George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Eric Garner murdered by the police. They were murdered by a system that sees us as less than human — it’s even in the damn Constitution  — a system that says they can kill us because we do not matter, Black lives do not matter. 

And there are those who, from a young age, are taught that Black people are animals. They are taught to fear us; we are threats in every way. When those children grow up, they become doctors, teachers, lawyers, judges, presidents and cops, and they want to keep these social dynamics, to keep it that way. So they continue with their rhetoric, and they  pound their chests, and they kill us. 

When we stand up, they do anything and everything to keep us divided, including sending in people to pretend to be our allies and cause problems, to take away the protest. The media focuses on that, scaring those who don’t know any better, all designed to quell the rising of our voices. 

We cannot allow that to happen, not this time. 

We cannot, we must not stand down. We need to get our brown, white, Chinese, and Native American brothers and sisters to stand with us. We must build. We must organize. We must educate and empower each other. We cannot be silent anymore.

James Shearer

James Shearer is a writer and co-founder of Spare Change News.

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