Dear White People:
After the recent murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, I’ve seen a huge outpouring of “anger” and “support” from white people. These are people I’ve rarely heard from before. Don’t get me wrong. You should be vocal, but we don’t need that kind of support. Let me tell you why.
I’m from Chicago and when the Cubs started winning, the die-hard Cubs fans, who supported the team through thick and thin, told the new-found fans, “we don’t need that kind of support.” In that case it was fair weather support.
Let’s call the current level of support from white people “inclement weather support.” This is the kind of support where you appear outraged briefly while things look really bad but then everything is back to business as usual. You’re desensitized. The police beatings that don’t end in death get a, “Meh. It’s not as bad as it could have been.”
Here are the kind of things I’ve read or have been sent directly to me to rationalize why this is the case they care about:
“This wasn’t an instant decision. The cop had time to react” and “The media has never shown so straightforward, in your face, downright murder before.”
Hmm. Six years ago the media showed the “in your face, downright murder” of Eric Garner by two police officers who also choked him and killed him in New York. He also couldn’t breathe. This was big news. Athletes were risking their careers to wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts in protest. Yet somehow the latest murder is the first time anyone’s heard of such a thing.
I’ve also heard, “This officer was just out of control. He was probably doing it to white people too.” Well, we may find out about that. But when Philando Castile was murdered in St. Paul, Minnesota by police in 2016 for following the law, the Latino police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, got off. Soon after that when a Black Muslim police officer, Mohamed Noor, in Minneapolis accidentally shot a white woman, he was (deservedly) sentenced to 12 ½ years in prison.
It’s “reasonable,” according to juries, for a white officer to fear a Black man just because he’s Black. After all, he probably has a gun. He probably is a drug dealer. He probably is going to try to harm me. In the Noor case, the prosecutor asked him, “Her whole blonde hair, pink T-shirt and all, that was all a threat to you?” Because of course a white woman in a pink t-shirt can’t be a threat to a strong Black police officer.
Fired officer, Derek Chauvin, has now been charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter – the very same charges Noor received in the very same county. Let’s see if Chauvin is convicted. Let’s see if Chauvin receives the same 12 1/2 years for the blatant murder of a Black man that Noor received for accidentally killing a white woman.
When Black people protested in Minneapolis against the murder, police used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters. And allegedly, one officer (unconfirmed) was seen breaking windows of local stores to appear to be a protester. MSNBC reported on May 30, “The only violence is coming from those in uniform.”
Now contrast that action with the kind of “force” that was used against armed protesters who stormed the Michigan Capitol building to assert their right to spread the Covid-19 virus.
The moral of the story is: It’s dandy that you’re up in arms this week. But what were you doing 20 years ago when this was happening and you heard about it from word of mouth? What were you doing 10 years ago and 5 years ago when this was happening and it was captured and shared in personal cell phone video? What were you doing in the last 5 years when the same thing was happening and it was captured on police cameras and shared? My guess is the same thing you’ll be doing at this time in the fall when the next highly publicized police murder occurs: On your keyboard, typing, “Wow. How can we let this happen?
(Updated 5/30 to include updated events)