I have struggled to find the words this week to express my grief and raging thoughts on the killing of George Floyd and the protests taking place in Minneapolis.
George Floyd’s death was shocking. Even more shocking and troubling is the calm by which the officer carried out the violence apparently with the comfort of knowing he could without impunity.
George Floyd died in plain sight and for all to see and witness. What is clear is that our nation is in crisis, our government systems are broken and the institutions that are supposed to serve and protect us must be held accountable.
I want to channel my anger into action. I plan to direct my disgust into a renewed resolved to end this violence and injustice.
My heart breaks for George, his family and friends, and for the people of Minneapolis. I ache for the people around Arizona and the country moved to tears and moved to act by this tragedy.
His death came on the heels of another shocking killing of Ahmaud Arbery, killed while jogging, by two people as a third shot video of the entire incident. This is what African Americans, including me, my wife, son, brothers, sisters and friends, live with every day. Incidents of aggression towards African Americans are occurring all over the country every day including here in Phoenix.
Yesterday two white young men drove up next to my wife, Carla, while she was jogging in our neighborhood, and yelled the “N” word at her and sped off. She served our country in the military for 29 years defending our freedoms and to have this happen this week. It could happen to any of us.
You ask why people protest and why some turn violent. Peaceful protests turning violent are unfortunate and should not happen.
However, I understand the expression of a generation of violence against African Americans across this country. It is the voice of the voiceless, the ignored, the marginalized, the forgotten, and the seemingly expendable like in the case of George Floyd. Minnesota happened to be the city but in reality, this could have been any city in the country.
Dr. King said, “a riot is the language of the unheard.”
It’s time to turn the page on this sad chapter.
Protests are the fabric of what makes us Americans from the Boston Tea Party, to the Vietnam era to now.
I pray George Floyd’s death and the resulting protests will spark dramatic and positive change that strengthens and heals our nation.