I'm still not really ready to talk about this in depth. There is too much going on, there are too many layers to it, for me to write a short and simple post trying to make sense of such a profoundly broken world. It makes me painfully aware of how there are two different police worlds in this country: some places (including the one where I live now) where the police see themselves as part of the community, and they are liked, respected, and trusted; some places where the police see the community as a mass of perps to be forced down, where they are feared, distrusted, and hated. When you live in one of these worlds, it's almost impossible to imagine the other.
I'm not going to offer the usual platitude of "rioting is bad, but." Everyone seems to want to offer this as a way of bolstering their "I'm not really supporting this frightening thing" credentials, often along with asking why the protests in Baltimore, in Ferguson, in anywhere else couldn't be "more like MLK." But this is a profound misunderstanding of King's work, as well: his peaceful protests happened in the context of pervasive violence, and were often the targets of unchecked violence. In fact, he gave a speech in 1968 which feels like it could have been given yesterday: (The full text being at http://goo.gl/l7Lq8N, and it's all quite relevant)
It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.
And fortunately, on a day where I don't know what to say, several others have spoken, and said things worth hearing. One is Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the best journalistic voices of our day, with the short article linked below. Another is John Angelos, COO of the Baltimore Orioles, who responded memorably and passionately to people who were upset that a game had been cancelled: you can read what he said at
And third is the President, whose words today I'll leave you with: (https://youtu.be/ZmJlAxB5obg?t=3646)
This is not new. This has been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, we also know if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity — where children are born into abject poverty, they've got parents, often because of substance abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education, and themselves can't do right by their kids, if it's more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead than that they go to college, and communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men, communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing's been stripped away, and drugs have flooded the community and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a lot of folks — in those environments, if we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without, as a nation, and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem, and we'll go through this same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities, and the occasional riots in the streets and everybody will feign concern until it goes away and we just go about our business as usual.
- +Butterfield Plumbing, LLCOwner, 2009 - present
- Tonasket High School1986
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