Speaking Out Against Injustice

My guest blogger today is Bill D. (a member of my family):

“The murder of George Floyd absolutely horrifies me. It is simply unconscionable that a human being could be so careless, so cold. I was a police officer and have been in public safety my whole life. I wholeheartedly agree with calling out the bad apples and having zero tolerance.

I understand but do not condone (that is different) the rioting and protests. Rioting against injustice, although destructive, and ‘illegal’ has been a part of civilization since the beginning. When the anger, frustration, and helplessness reaches a level where it cannot be contained, it is released in an explosive manner. I cannot even begin to guess the amount of pain and anger minority communities have gone through over this time after time. Looting is different, and then it’s not about your anger and wanting to be heard, wanting change, anymore. Looting is a selfish criminal behavior.

But after the release of anger, where do we go from here? How do we move forward together? Painting all cops as bad is not helpful. I worry this would lead to increased confrontation, increased reaction, and increased violence with every interaction. Just as every black person is NOT a ‘thug’, not every law enforcement officer is racist. Every case is different, and not every law enforcement killing is criminal. Some are justified, some are terrible mistakes, and some, like Minneapolis, are negligent and egregious enough to be murder.

White agitators and professional inciters are harmful. As a white person, who can clearly see how wrong it is that a black man cannot jog, cannot bird-watch in Central Park, who cannot exist safely, what can I do to fix this?

How can ‘wrong’ be so clear and still exist? How can a person with so many use-of-force complaints still be a cop? How does the Minneapolis leadership explain that? There has to be absolute, no exception, zero tolerance.

black lives - your son sign photo by Travis Heying
“What if it were your son?” – sign from May 2020 protests (taken by Travis Heying)

And I am not just pandering as a white man. My son is black. I love him with all my heart and greatly fear for him. He has special needs. His disabilities make it where he cannot process information normally. He naturally argues ‘everything’. And no, it’s not normal teenage arguing (I am so sick of hearing that). He mentally processes everything as a challenge. He believes things that are not true. He honestly thinks if I tell him something, it doesn’t apply when he’s with Mom because she never told him. I know how he’ll react if confronted by law enforcement. He is not mentally capable of ‘going along’ and waiting to call me. And that haunts me every day.

I don’t have all the answers. The best solution I’ve seen so far is to film everything. Good officers, if you’re not interfering, should have no issue with you holding your phone out in public. Even if you’re white, speak up. Don’t just tell minorities that we see you as human beings equal in rights and safety. Speak that we’ll stand with you whenever needed. Speak up and tell the police that we need you, we support you, but we’re watching you too. Who watches the watchers?

I am blue, through and through. I believe and support the very concept of law enforcement. And I believe in my heart, sitting in the safety of my home, that if one of my peers, my friends, crossed the line, I could stop them and call them out. But I had a wonderful mentor in my small hometown that taught me honor and integrity are paramount.

If by speaking out, even a little, can help create a safer world for my kids, then this is me speaking out. We have to change. We have to have leaders at all levels willing to lead that change.”