Reading through all of the protest and riot news today, two things are stuck in my mind. One is how it appears those who want to start race wars and create anarchy are highjacking peaceful protests.
The other is what one person said, “The fires are necessary.”
This has left me confused and concerned as I don’t understand the need for setting actual fires. How are the fires necessary? Please help me to understand as it seems very wrong from the lens of my life as a child of poverty, white, gay, law-abiding and having made it to the middle class through a lot of hard work.
I wholeheartedly support the protests as I believe they are necessary and long overdue. We live in a society of haves and have nots, of equality and inequality, of justice and injustice. It needs to change and I don’t have any answers for how that will occur or be moved forward. I don’t know how we fully meet the ideals of equality for all citizens in our country.
In my life I try to call out injustice and inequality, try to give voice to those whose voice is silenced, to work to better the lives of all. I am one person, but I do what I can, and work to educate myself as much as possible.
What do the fires accomplish? In speaking and listening to those around me, the fires send the wrong message. The fires reinforce stereotypes about being destructive and out-of-control. It supports the stories in many minds that some of our citizens can’t control themselves, therefore they must be controlled. It supports the stories in many minds there is a lack of respect for authority within certain segments of our citizens, therefore force is necessary during encounters.
What are the optics of the fires? We live in a video-taking society. Anyone and everyone can pull out their cellphones and record, even broadcast live, what is happening at any given moment. When other people, of all ilks, see someone setting fire to a trash can, a business, a police car, a police precinct building, among other things, what is the natural reaction to those of us who believe in law and order? It is hard to be supportive of someone being destructive no matter their race or cause.
We need reform! We need police who kill held accountable by other officers and by the courts! We need everyone to feel the police have their backs! We need everyone to feel safe regardless of color! We need a country whom values all of its citizens and seeks to lift us all! We need a united, not divided, country!
We need change!
I’ll ask again, “Why are the fires necessary?”
I want to understand.