American Citizen George Floyd was killed 828 miles and about 13 hours from the historical marker in Memphis that notes Ida B. Wells’ passion to expose and eliminate lynching. The extreme, reckless disregard for his life warrants consideration of murder at the highest degree possible.
Since Mr. Floyd was restrained to death by a Minneapolis, MN. police officer supported by silent partners, people have marched by, past and/or near the Wells marker at the intersection of Beale St. and Rufus R. Thomas. The offices of The New Tri-State Defender are within the block.
Starting from where the horror of Mr. Floyd’s videotaped last moments of suffering found them, individuals – amid a viral pandemic – have chosen to take to the streets, registering righteous, yet-controlled indignation about that homicide and demanding systemic changes.
Rightly so! People have a right to live free of the fear that enforcement of the law will be carried out by people who don’t know how to do – or won’t do – their jobs. No such bad apples are to be tolerated.
The volume of violence and destruction scarring a number of cities across America puts in context those far fewer instances of violence and destruction that have happened here. For those who have found themselves in harm’s way, haunting experiences may linger. Going forward includes funneling to them any help/guidance/support they may need.
Memphis is our city, a fact reflected in the unity of diversity that has chosen to voice demands for change from the streets and multiple other points of social intersection and interaction. Diverse individuals collaborating beyond their differences because they genuinely care actually is evident throughout the city, a fact laid bare by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
At a point in the past, a new nation – our nation – conceived in liberty took root in a bed of inequality. It has been trying to build a republic on shaky ground ever since.
Now through a collection of sobering circumstances, we can choose to be at a turning point – a rare place from which to address that deep-rooted inequity at the level needed and with the force necessary to uproot it.
It’s fitting and proper to honor Mr. Floyd and every other African American killed while doing nothing threatening. Justice must proceed in all specific incidents while measures are developed and put in place to dismantle the systemic practices spitting out the disproportionate treatment that – in worse-case scenarios – kills people.
Difficult road ahead? Yes.
Still, the mind is its own place – one from which every individual can regroup, make sense of the past, line up with endowed humanity and form fresh relationships based on the principle of equality: 1 = 1. All lives matter. Black Lives Matter.
A helpful starter is a simple truth associated with Bishop Desmond Tutu (played by Forest Whitaker in the movie “The Forgiven”) as Nelson Mandela-led South Africa lumbered out of apartheid toward the ideal of “our” country.
That truth is that there is a difference between difficult and impossible.
We must change the orbit re: police-community relations and the conversations about them. And, silence is not an option to choose at a time such as this.
Changing orbit can be done by slowing down to reposition for acceleration, which often means taking in new information, data, research from new people in the course of developing calculated and timed next steps toward sustained growth and development.
Drawing upon its founding principles, The New Tri-State Defender recommits to reporting upon, fostering, nurturing, hosting and leading – when necessary – the conversations required for “our” community to accelerate toward positive change.