Words can be limiting. For the past week I have struggled to find them. Terrence Floyd, the brother of the man killed by Minneapolis police officers outside the Cup Foods store in the LongFellow neighborhood at 38th and Chicago. Terrence did not have any trouble finding the right words. Amidst the depth of his sorrow, after praising the protest but discouraging any violence, while at the impromptu memorial on the spot his brother was murdered, he had the presence of mind and grace to say this – “So let’s do this another way. Lets stop thinking that our voice don’t matter and vote”.
VOTE! That is what was on his mind. I was initially stunned. Of all that has been said since the senseless killing, by legions of people from all walks of life, Terrence cut to the chase. It may not befit the collective rage. It was not flowery or as gut wrenching as the Rev.Al Sharpton at Floyds memorial service, demanding that the country “Get your knee off our neck”, but it was in fact the most practical and true advice anyone could offer.
While so many wonder what will come of this seminal moment in terms of producing real change in, among other aspects, the American criminal justice system, Terrence reminded people that all change starts with voting. By doing so he honored his brothers life by speaking plain truth. You want real change? Then vote for people that will fight for that change and not rest until it is designed and installed. Optimists thought there would be positive change after Rodney King was beat to within an inch of his life by a police mob in Los Angeles over 27 years ago. Not so much.
Change will not come as long as Donald Trump is President. Change will not happen with the likes of Mitch McConnell (R – Kentucky), and Lindsey Graham (R – South Carolina), in control of the United States Senate. There is no hope that racial injustice will be addressed as long as Bill Barr is Attorney General. In short, the current republican party is simply not capable of addressing positive change. They are not the least interested in it. It is not any part of their self-serving agenda. Just ask them. “No comment”.
After Trump decided to encourage the use of tear gas on peaceful protesters, on his fellow American citizens exercising their civil rights, so that he could walk across the street and abuse a bible by using it as a prop for a photo op, a parade of republican senators refused to offer any comment about it. After retired General Mattis, Trumps former Secretary of Defense, offered a rebuke of Trump over his use of the regular army in the streets of Washington D.C., only two republicans offered any comment at all after Trump lashed out against Mattis by tweet. Senator(s) Lisa Murkowshi (R -Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) defended Mattis but both stopped short of condemning Trumps himself. So again the score is America 0 – Republican Senators 53. The republican party is not on the side of America. They have done more to protect Russia’s interference in our elections than to support Americans right to vote, and certainly not black Americans and other oppressed people of color.
Donald Trump and his cast of misfit characters, starting with Bill Barr have attempted to place blame for any and all violence associated with the recent protests across the country on Antifa, a loosely organized group that attempts to physically battle fascism. The name stands for Anti-Fascism. Trump declared he would have them classified as a terrorist organization. Why single out Antifa? Because that group is often associated with left-wing politics by right-wing politicians. Of course there is little to no mention of the presence of the various white supremacist groups such as the Boogaloo Boys, or the Proud Boys, equally if not more violent, and often who Antifa members show up to battle (along with the KKK and others like them, all of whom look to instigate race riots).
If the argument is that Antiifa is an anarchist organization looking to destroy the institutions of America, the evidence shows that the Trump administration has done more to dismantle America than anyone since the confederacy of the civil war. Department after department handed over to their most vocal critics, to republican donors, universally without qualification. The misuse of the Justice Department, which is supposed to represent the American people, not Donald Trump. The use of the American military against their own people on their own soil. This is not democracy.
Without any basis in fact Donald Trump loves to accuse opponents of that which he is guilty. I would argue he is in fact the thug he accused demonstrators of being, Americans who took to the street after yet another black man was murdered by police.
So Terrence Floyd was right on. Vote on every level at every opportunity. Change can only start with a change of not just the President but of the republican control of the Senate. Senator Rand Paul, (R-Kentucky), only days after the murder of George Floyd, just months after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an innocent jogger in Georgia, and an endless time parade of other dead black American citizens since & before Rodney King, Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked a bipartisan anti-lynching bill from passing saying it is “too broad”. I stress to understand how anti-lynching could be too broad, or that such should be a concern.
Positive change starts with electing Joe Biden President of the United States. The former Vice President is a compassionate and decent man, a man who will help usher positive change in all its facets. He will manage the pandemic on a national basis, unite the country, and help to start to heal the open wounds ripped in the hearts of decent Americans everywhere.
There is no way I, or anyone, could say it better than Terrence Floyd. Vote. I urge us all to work to help make sure every American can vote fairly, safely & by mail in the middle of this pandemic. Do something to battle republican voter suppression. But if nothing else stand up and vote for positive change.
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