Kneel for America

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(Kneel for America)

The news of the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis is troubling. Regardless of what had transpired before the video started of the police officer’s knee on his throat, it could not justify this officer’s action.

I hate stories like this, not only because lives (sometimes not innocent lives) are lost but because they affect attitudes towards police officers. I don’t know of any group, whether policemen, firemen, clergy, doctors, nurses or athletes that don’t have bad apples among them and I expect whatever percentage of bad apples exist in any group it is about the same. Let me start out guessing 2%. I want to believe that the percentage of bad apples is low. I have friends in all of the groups I listed above and they are good and decent people but the few bad apples put us in fear and discredit the very good by their actions.

I am writing about this because of the most recent case of unwarranted police brutality, the George Floyd case. I’m sure I could find cases of brutality against white Americans too, but unfortunately, the number of brutality cases against black youth is disproportionately high. And don’t make the mistake of blaming just police. They are only a small portion of the perpetrators. Here are just a small sampling of such cases:

• Rodney King

• Trayvon Martin

• Dante Parker

• Dontre Hamilton

• Eric Garner

• John Crawford

• Tanisha Anderson

• Tamir Rice

• Rumain Brisbon

• Akai Gurley

• Stephon Clark

• Freddie Gray

• Ahmaud Marquez Arbery

Feel free to google any or all of these names if you don’t remember the specifics of each case. This is far from a complete list. Not all of them involve police. Some of the violence was perpetrated by simply those with racist attitudes. Until 2016 I thought we were making progress in achieving higher levels of tolerance and inclusion. I fear we have regressed.

The violent response of crowds in Minneapolis and around the country is unfortunate but understandable. The brutality against people of color has gone on far too long and is now getting worse. In 1962, John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Colin Kaepernick tried to bring attention to this injustice in a non-violent manner but his message was distorted and portrayed as anti-American when his intention was never unpatriotic but was a desire to make America better for all. I applaud Lebron James for posting about Kaepernick and trying to resurrect that original message that all lives matter, including black lives.

Perhaps we should all kneel.

Kneel in contemplation. Kneel in prayer that the coming election this November will put people of tolerance and compassion and love back in office.

For two months now I have been sharing on my Facebook page places in which I would like to be sequestering from the Coronavirus, places like a Nat’ l Park or a peaceful waterfall or remote mountain cabin. Today, however, is not a day to be sheltering but to be making your voice heard. Today I would like to be at the Statue of Liberty, holding a sign that says, “America, still a work in progress.” The “America – Love it or leave it” racist mentality was popular during the civil rights era. But if you truly love our country, you would want to stay and make it better, to work toward the aspirations implied by the Statue. Emma Lazarus wrote the following sonnet to help raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue sits.

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she.

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

It calls upon America to be a welcoming safe haven for the oppressed of the world. It has not yet a safe haven for our brothers and sisters of color and our current President is trying to slam the welcoming door shut. We can do better. Our Declaration of Independence says “All men are created equal”. All are equal in God’s eyes. We have not come close to achieving that aspiration. We can do better. Stand up for equality. Stand up for “liberty and justice for all’. We need a quick change of direction this November.

By Dick Gale.

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