I need some help here, is COVID-19 over and I missed the memo?
Just one short week ago, I shared a perspective on high school graduation and the sadness felt for the Class of 2020 (aka the class of COVID-19). Yet somehow in a time when “mass gatherings” are impermissible, I woke Monday morning to news reports filled with images of protests (peaceful and otherwise), as well as a mob mentality of looting, unlawfulness and just plain hate.
But we’re still afraid of COVID ... right?
Now please don’t misunderstand; this is not in any way shape or form intended to be a tongue in cheek piece taking lightly the death of George Floyd. There is no question that there was injustice taken at the hands of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who’s responsible for the death of Floyd.
For those who have missed it, the behavior of this former officer is not being celebrated by anyone. In fact he has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He’s no hero.
The reality of all this is there are bad cops. Fortunately I happen to know personally there are a lot of good cops as well. Law enforcement (most especially in this day and age) is not a profession for the thin skinned or the weak. Unlike the firefighter, the police officer is rarely celebrated as they do their job in a role of protect and serve. Do some take it to an extreme and perhaps do an injustice to the badge? Indeed they do, Chauvin is a poster child for such a thought.
But here’s the thing, just as there are bad cops, there are also good and bad teachers; good and bad politicians; even good and bad journalists. In short, we are speaking of humans and amidst all of this my stomach flips as I wonder where is the justice in all of this and what has become of our humanity.
As I type this, I hear critics via the news, shame the media for showing the looters via the peaceful protestors. Now, that’s really rich. So, let’s take the attention away from the reality of people (less than six feet apart) shutting down freeways as they walk in protest? Or loot businesses who are likely already weeks from closing thanks to COVID-19 and let’s blame the media for documenting what’s happening in real time, just as someone did as George Floyd’s life was being taken.
I’m just so confused.
Regardless of political party I have yet to hear a single person say Floyd’s death was justified or even accepted. Yet here we are, living yet another bad movie.
I didn’t know Floyd and in complete honesty have yet to Google and read, “who was George Floyd” because for me in this moment those facts aren’t necessary. The fact which boggles my mind the most is, would this be the legacy Floyd and his family would want left in the days following his death?
Police cars being burned, National Guard soldiers on the buildings of police departments preventing violence, business owners being trampled and beaten by looters – is this what we’ve now come to as a country?
For those standing up for racial injustice, I see you and hear you. Unfortunately and sadly, your voice has become muffled by the looter, the hateful and the fact that … We are still living in the world of COVID-19 and I have yet to see a protest (peaceful or otherwise) spaced six feet apart.
To my friends who are small business owners who have struggled for months to feed their families, I’m sorry. To the students robbed of the end of year festivities and most important graduations, I’m sorry. To the families who are counting the days until they can reunite and hug/love their loved ones, I’m sorry.
My heart breaks today as I watch what I have seen so many times before, as the silent majority we scratch our heads. We follow the rules, we work hard, we raise our children with respect and grit, we embody the Golden Rule, yet we turn on our televisions and view hate, mayhem and mass injustice. This does not honor a life, this is all creating a bigger divide which I feel has little to do with color and everything to do with humanity and peace. God help us all.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.