On Cape Cod, where so many of us are focused now on economic survival in the midst of a pandemic, Minneapolis and other cities where protests have raged seems a world away. But as we’re fighting to salvage the summer of 2020, and our livelihoods, others are fighting for justice.
We share the world’s outrage at the death of George Floyd last week. There is no excuse for a police officer to pin a man to the ground by pressing his knee against the suspect’s neck for nearly nine minutes, even if the suspect was violent, which Floyd was not. He was being arrested for allegedly passing a phony $20 bill at a deli.
That officer’s behavior does not represent our values and it sullies the good work of police officers everywhere who enforce the law in a manner that is tolerant, colorblind and professional. It is a good thing — a necessary thing — that protesters have taken to the streets to make it known that such violence is unacceptable. In some places, police officers have joined the ranks of the protesters in solidarity. And so, it was with a sense of pride that we watched as thousands of people held peaceful protests in Boston Sunday.
And it was with great disappointment that we watched those protests devolve into violence and looting around Downtown Crossing and elsewhere in the city. The spree of lawlessness, in Boston and elsewhere that night and the nights that followed, accomplished two things: it hurt business owners who are already struggling to reopen during the pandemic, and it threatened to strip the legitimacy from the very legitimate rage people feel about race violence in America. That dishonors George Floyd, and dishonors us as nation.
We're not just living through a viral pandemic; the American Psychological Association has declared that we're also living in a racism pandemic. Racism isn't something that stops at the bridge, and it's something we can all do something about. We can condemn the many acts of violence against African Americans; we can denounce the inflammatory language and insensitivity of our president; we can join local protests in solidarity with those whose voices are being silenced and lives are being snuffed out. We can recognize the rights of the victims, the protesters, and those who suffer when the protests turn unnecessarily violent.
This is an historic time, one that begs for leadership on all levels. Unfortunately, it's lacking at the very top, and those whose voices need to be heard are being drowned out by the sounds of sirens and flash bangs.