Well, he’s done it again.
Mr. President has successfully turned the tables to distract us from matters at hand.
Or, has he?
These ginormous nationwide protests from New York City to Chicago to Portland and all points in between, originally undertaken to demand racial justice for our Black brothers and sisters slaughtered by the po-po from coast to coast for everything from “resisting arrest” while handcuffed and laid flat facedown with four cops kneeling on them to the sin of sleeping-peacefully-in-bed- while-Black (Breonna Taylor in Louisville), have been hijacked by Mr. President’s re-election campaign.
Apparently, Trump 2020 wants to turn them into live-action video fright-ads to scare the bejesus out of white people. But we’ve seen this movie before, president Richard Nixon beat this “Law and Order” drum in 1968 and used footage from the Democratic National Convention brouhaha in Chicago, which were later deemed “police riots.”
Yes, many white folks will take the bait and scurry into their favorite polling station to cast their vote for Spin-Master’s re-elect (or mail-in their ballots as the case may be).
But according to the polls: not so fast, Mr. and Mrs. Molasses.
Seriously, imagine if you can that we had spent weeks seeing video of a white man in handcuffs behind his back and laying face down with multiple police officers upon him, the main culprit kneeling on his neck with his hand casually placed in his pocket, while said white subject literally begged for his life, “I can’t breathe, sir…please, I can’t breathe.”
Nothing would’ve transpired as it has. And now, in response to continuing protests, Mr. President, feeling besieged by it all, decides to send in federal agents not to quell a thing; nope, but to instigate violence to produce video for his re-election.
How do we know this? Because the videos are already incorporated into the ad campaign and airing; not to mention, Mr. President constantly calling out “Democrat mayors.” Think he gave-up on fighting Covid-19?
However, it does seem to me that we uptight whites may indeed be experiencing a sea change in terms of attitude. I am seeing evidence not just in polling, but also in who is showing-up to join the Black Lives Matter protests.
It’s been heartening.
With a sense of national purpose, white America must awaken from our slumber because in the same way it took white voters to elect the first Black president (and I like to believe that meant something to most of us, including plenty of Republicans), it will take a tsunami of Caucasian conscience to turn back this drowning tide that African-Americans have had to struggle against for far too long.
Just because a suspect/ subject, a human being, mind you, is big and Black and odd-looking (a reputed gentle giant, George Floyd’s mother referred to him as “my freak of nature”), doesn’t give anyone license to abuse him; much less to death!
Likewise, just because a house or an apartment is in a Black neighborhood, with a reputation as a problem area or not, law enforcement cannot shoot indiscriminately through dark curtained windows; search warrant or not; returning fire or not!
And this business about whether cops are good or not, “I have family members in law enforcement, they’re not all bad”, is not the point.
Humans are never consistent enough to be “all” of anything. The point is fear. And how we view “other.”
I have friends and family in law enforcement too; only one has stayed put.
I’m not close enough to him to make an assessment, but my former-police officer cousin was the meanest bully this side of the Mississippi and it’s a good thing she quit the force; her stories of abusing people who committed the unpardonable sin of making her wait too long in-line at the gas station cashier were mind-numbing.
Off-duty and out-of-uniform at that.
Something happens to some people when they are given authority as weighty as life and death.
A friend I’ve known since high school joined a local police department in South Carolina in his twenties and lasted all of a couple months, insisting, “It’s so much worse than people think, the cops’ behavior and disrespect for people.”
Obviously, these two are not outliers.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: the answer is to come up with a test at the application process to identify and weed-out cowards and bullies.
Better starting pay might help too.
“Defunding the police” won’t happen; and it shouldn’t.
Redirect some monies? Maybe.
As for this business of using federal agents to invade urban centers (many of these Trump troops were trained in detention centers, dealing with hardened convicts): If the Trump Administration put as much focus and energy into fighting Covid-19 as they have into fighting urban America and laying waste to constitutional order, we might be in the same place nationally regarding new cases as other downward-trending nations.
Lastly, in the words of former Republican Governor of Pennsylvania and Bush Administration Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge: “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I’d let uninvited federal agents interfere in my state running roughshod and bulldozing over human beings.”
Bernie Evans is a local resident whose opinions have appeared in local publications, TIME and The Nation.