It’s been a busy week. Two weeks ago my family joined the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Minneapolis. Last Saturday they protested at Mall of America (we did not attend) and police turned out in riot gear and shut down the mall for a peaceful protest.
On the same day two New York police officers were shot and killed by a mentally unstable man who had killed his girlfriend earlier in the day, killed himself after the incident, and has spouted revenge rhetoric, implying his actions were in response to recent police killings of black people.
Some of the response to that tragedy has blamed the protestors. Not just mild finger pointing, but incendiary language about “blood on your hands.” (Here’s perhaps the best response I’ve seen.)
So here I sit on Christmas Eve writing about it. The whole situation is pretty intense (especially as yet another case is breaking news).
Today my family went to the Million Artist Movement rally/protest in downtown Minneapolis. It’s part of #BlackLivesMatter response to the continuing racial injustice in cases like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others.
It’s interesting. I’ve never really protested before. I’ve been to a few peace protests, mostly in response to 9/11 and the continuing war in Iraq, but I was more there as a journalist/observer than a participant.
Today I was here first and foremost as a dad. Secondly as a protestor myself.
It’s been kind of a bizarre week talking about these cases with our kids.
How do you explain all of this to your kids?
How do you explain what a “die in” is?
How do you explain to your brown-skinned son that police are killing brown-skinned people?
How do you explain that police are still heroes? That while this injustice happens and it’s bad and we want to stop it, not all police officers are bad?
None of it is easy, I can tell you that.
When we told Milo that Michael Brown and Eric Garner were black, he broke down in tears.
His reaction broke my heart. But it also seems like the only appropriate way to respond.
The civil rights movement may have been 50 years ago and we did elect a black president, but that doesn’t mean injustice is over. It’s still all around us, it’s still causing pain, and it’s our time to stop it.
At the rally they led us in a song. I shot a quick video of part of it:
Oh the day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more
The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more
But while my sister ain’t equal
And my brother can’t breathe
Hand in hand with my family we will fill these streets.
I can’t help but think of the day that will come when we don’t have to march or cry or fight or despair no more. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. It’s a kingdom hope, but it doesn’t have to be an unattainable hope.
This whole thing is hard and complicated and painful and difficult. If you’re feeling those things, I feel them with you. Please listen.
At the end of the rally they had ribbons and asked us to write something on the ribbons. Here’s what we wrote:
In the span of a few weeks 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police, within seconds of police arriving on the scene; there was no indictment in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo.; and now there’s no indictment in the Eric Garner case.
Where the Michael Brown case might seem murky (no video, conflicting stories, charging the officer), the Eric Garner case seems much more direct. There’s video of the confrontation and while Garner is subdued on the ground an officer has him in a choke hold and doesn’t let up, even though the NYPD doesn’t authorize that kind of force.
Their are now protests around the country. My Twitter feed is lit up with outrage.