George Floyd died calling for his mother on May 25, and our nation was taken aback by the nature of his death. With the protests that followed and the gestures of solidarity from all corners, it was thought that what we had witnessed would become a watershed moment in the policing of the Black community. That finally, the fear and pain would be recognized and validated. That the time had come for reform. Enough is enough. We allowed ourselves to feel a glimmer of hope.
Yet, per mappingpoliceviolence.org, since May 25, there have only been three days that haven’t seen an officer-involved killing. As of August 24, this amounts to 751 people, an average of more than three per day.
This despite the elevated awareness of this violence. Despite the protests happening in the streets. Despite the Black Lives Matter signs. Despite the gestures. Despite the focus groups. The deaths continue.
Thankfully, Jacob Blake didn’t find himself added to this number. At least not yet. Right now, he’s lying in a hospital bed in critical condition. Paralyzed, but alive.
The violence that we watched him endure causing a community to once again feel that fear. That pain that drives people into the streets to raise their voices in frustration.
It's a pain that caused athletes across the sporting world to say, "not tonight." It’s a pain that we were told was going to be respected and listened to. But instead, its pain that's been met with heavy handed calls for law and order, and armed vigilantes. Vigilantes told by authority, “We appreciate you”.
These calls for law and order are precisely why the streets have been filled every night.
But whose idea of law and order is it? Because for this Black man and most people I've spoken to, the cries of Black Lives Matter are simply for the ideals of law and order to apply to all American citizens, regardless of what side of the street, what side of town or what side of the badge you find yourself. But that kind of law and order would require sacrifice, honor and humility from those with the privilege to supercede the rules of engagement applied to the rest of us.
You see in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Portland and Minneapolis just how hard they will fight to protect it.
We are indeed quite a ways away from an end to this fear and pain, as officers walk among us with whom we know an interaction can end in death. Even if you’re just sleeping in your own bed.
So where do we go from here? What's the plan? Don't you know, it's already on lawmakers' desks: the Police Reforms Act. But sadly, it will sit there unsigned as long as we continue to protest, unheard.