Like most Americans, I am deeply angered by the actions of Minneapolis police who were involved in the tragic death of George Floyd. The officer who applied the deadly knee to Floyd’s neck and his co-conspirators who stood by doing nothing to assist Floyd as he gasped for air and pleaded for his life should have been immediately arrested and charged with murder.
Americans across this nation, who are exercising their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly, have not only shown their grief and anger at what happened to Floyd and others who have died at the hands of police, but they are making a broader, clarion call for long-delayed reforms. Curtailing police misconduct, ending discrimination, assuring economic, racial and social justice for all and a stronger federal enforcement of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws for all citizens are just a few reforms that this nation can no longer ignore.
Research has shown that African Americans and other minorities continue to face higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, poorer benefits and greater job instability. Additionally, multiple studies indicate that African Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate for white Americans. This last statistic is not meant to portray all police officers as villainous because most officers work very hard to protect and serve our communities, but police departments, nationwide, must be proactive in addressing hiring and training practices to combat police brutality.
This crisis, born of despair and desperation, cries out for effective and compassionate leadership. Rather than acknowledging the many injustices African Americans and other minorities have experienced during this nation’s history and promising relief, President Donald Trump resorts to name-calling and threats characterizing protesters as “thugs,” “lowlifes” and “losers.”
His demand that state governors take measures to “dominate” protesters, his threat to bring in U.S. military troops to quell protests and his order to forcibly remove peaceful protesters outside the White House so that he could march to church and grandstand by raising a Bible for a photo opportunity are actions more in line with absolute dictatorships and third world banana republics than democracies.
While cowardly hiding out in his White House bunker surrounded by fencing, Trump should read the Constitution and reacquaint himself with its enumeration of protected liberties. He should read the Declaration of Independence to remind himself that “All men are created equal.” He should read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in which he reminds Americans that, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Americans have been protesting injustices for more than 200 years. Let us not forget that this nation was built on protest and revolution. And let us also not forget that injustice does not cure itself. Those who have the courage to confront tyranny and injustice are the true patriots and guardians of American ideals. As Thomas Jefferson once proclaimed, “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”