“But I join Michael’s parents in asking anyone who protests this decision to do so peacefully.” –Barack Obama
“We trust that those unhappy with today’s grand jury decision will make their views known in the same peaceful, constructive way.” – Bill de Blasio
“As we continue to await word on the U.S. Justice Department’s ongoing investigation, I urge all those voicing their opinions regarding the grand jury’s decision to do so peacefully…” – Jay Nixon
Since this summer when protesters responded to the militarized response in Ferguson I’ve heard a recurring theme from elected officials as well as those interviewed on television; even from people on social media. If you’re going to protest and voice your opinion, do so peacefully. There is nothing wrong with seeking peace in an otherwise potential volatile situation but I can’t help but wonder why the pleas of peaceful responses seem to be placed upon the backs of people who are already tired from bearing the burden of morality.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 (KJV)
Not that anyone would need my blessing but I don’t condone violence and destruction but I do understand the motivation behind it. Compassion and being peaceful has gotten people of color nowhere besides more of our dead bodies, faux apologies and/or explanations and police officers who get to live their lives. Are police officers that murder black people being peaceful? Where is the peace when a man can lay on the ground screaming “I can’t breathe” while the life is being choked out of him? Is it peaceful to pump bullet after bullet into a young man while there is no clear and imminent danger to you?
The onus of keeping the peace should be with those who are paid to and have been sworn to do so. Instead the community is asked to rise above the prejudice and look past the bias that they face daily. It’s frustrating to see that the value of our lives means so little so yes I understand the frustration and the anger that leads to burning down a building or flipping over a car whether its in your own neighborhood or not.
When no one hears our peaceful protests, when no one pays attention to our cries maybe they’ll recognize what they respect. They’ve already shown us what they respect. This is a country that was built on violence and protest. America wasn’t founded on nonviolence; that’s something some of us (black and white) progressed towards while trying to achieve basic civil rights.
“Don’t give them a reason to think we’re animals.”
“They’ll have reason to think that what happened was justified.”
If a person thinks that the residuum to these grand jury decisions is a reflection on our people then at best they didn’t think highly of us to begin with. Those types of people will never understand who we are, what we go through and any reaction that we might have to us being legally murdered on our streets day in and day out. There is no point in trying to convince those people of our humanity or for our place at the table.
The night that the news broke that there would be no indictment of Darren Wilson in the murder of Mike Brown, The Raphael House of Portland, a domestic violence prevention and intervention agency, posted an excerpt of MLK’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail that I thought was pertinent to what I was seeing on my television and the criticism of it.
You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.
As I read that excerpt I pondered why people were wondering why buildings were burning in Ferguson instead of wondering why people feel they have no choice but to burn shit down?