The murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota has led to demonstration and protests, and mass violence in more than 100 cities across the nation. But, it this really about racism?
Now to be clear, racism does exist in the United States (and in probably every other country as well). It is not my intent to minimize the harm caused by true racism. But, ask yourself are YOU racist? Are your close friends racists who hate other people simply because of the tone of their skin?
A 2013 study published in the Washington Post found that the United States was one of the most tolerant / least racist countries in the world. When you look at the current protests and demonstrations happening across the nation, you see individuals of all races, of all creeds, and of many different national origins standing shoulder to shoulder demanding justice, demanding accountability... So, if you and your friends are not racist, if studies show that the United States is one of the least racist countries, and if Americans of every race come out to stand side by side to protest racism... what's really happening? Where is the underlying problem and how can we correct it?
There is a common thread running through the riots and mass public protests:
George Floyd - Killed By Police
Breonna Taylor - Killed By Police
Bothan Jean - Killed By Polce
Stephon Clark - Killed By Police
Philando Castile - Killed By Police
Alton Sterling - Killed By Police
Jamar Clark - Killed By Police
Freddie Gray - Killed By Police
Walter Scott - Killed By Police
Tamir Rice - Killed By Police
Laquan McDonald - Killed By Police
Michael Brown - Killed By Police
Eric Garner - Killed By Police
Violent, militarized police, ready to use violence and deadly force at the slightest provocation, or with no provocation at all, are the underlying problem we face in the United States today. There is a core of institutionalized racism in our nation's police forces. An environment that accepts and even encourages violence against anyone who questions them. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/police-killings-recent-history-george-floyd-1.5593768
Corrupt law enforcement agencies work to deny people their rights and use violence against peaceful protests. Individuals who question government misconduct are surveilled, harassed, and attacked by the police. In Washington State military anti-terrorism officers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord worked with law enforcement agencies to quell peaceful protests against the war in Iraq. "In the words of the government agencies involved, they aimed to neutralize PMR through a pattern of false arrests and detentions, attacks on homes and friendships, and attempting to impede members from peacefully assembling and demonstrating anywhere, at any time. Harassment was systematic and pervasive. Today's military has continued to engage in COINTELPRO-type operations and shows the extent to which the lines between the military and civilian law enforcement have blurred. Forces now used against ordinary people engaged in free speech and protest include, increasingly, weapons and tactics used by the U.S. military for combat missions. The drift from passive intelligence gathering to offensive counterintelligence is one manifestation of the difference between civilian law enforcement principles and the military's exclusive focus on defeating perceived enemies through combat, propaganda, and covert operations... The role of civilian law enforcement, in theory, is to protect the public and the Constitution whereas the role of the military is to identify the enemy and neutralize them... When the military starts identifying peaceful dissenters here as the enemy, God help us all." (Boghosian 2013, 107-108)
In 2019 and 2020, around the Joint Base Lewis-McChord military base in Washington State notices were posted at several businesses warning that "The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Anti-Terrorism Office Monitors This Location". The military stated that because individuals had posted "anti-DOD fliers" [fliers questioning illegal surveillance of the civilian community by the military] that these individuals were "homegrown violent extremists" [domestic terrorists] and that because of this the military anti-terrorism office was conducting surveillance of the civilian community. - Was the military really conducting surveillance of businesses that had posted "anti-DOD fliers"? Maybe, they had done so in the past, but it is just as likely that the notices about the Anti-Terrorism Office monitoring these off-base businesses were posted to threaten and intimidate the civilian community into silence.
There is a rotten core of racism, corruption, and violence in our nation's police departments and government agencies.