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Walking the Fine Line of #BlackLivesMatter

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George Floyd was murdered. In my mind, this point is irrefutable. I don't know how anybody can hear him say "I can't breathe" with an officer's knee on his windpipe and not feel that spark of rage that has in the last week been fanned into what can only be described as an inferno. If you feel upset by Floyd's murder, that's good, because you should feel moved by it. His death was unjust, and he's not the only victim of police brutality. One can only hope and pray that Floyd's family gets the justice they deserve in the upcoming trials of the officers involved in his murder.

But for many, that's not enough. Protests have sprung up around the world in the wake of Floyd's murder, invoking the names of others who have died unnecessarily in a show of police force. The protesters argue against the methods of the police department that would suffocate a man for almost 9 minutes, and then release an autopsy report that attempted to shift the cause of his death more to underlying health conditions and drug use than to the knee on his neck. The protests speak of the inaction of the other officers, and indeed those who continually refuse to act when they encounter brutality. Protests condemn law enforcement for the many, many reported incidents of brutality against the black community.

The anger is justified.

For some, the protesting doesn't everything. Even here in the Phoenix area, approximately 1,600 miles away from the site of George Floyd's murder, riots and looting have begun, prompting more altercations with local law enforcement. Reports of tear gas, rubber bullets, and even deaths have streamed in since the beginning of the riots, and even at peaceful protests. In response, certain states, including Arizona, have issued a week-long curfew, here threatening up to six months of jail time and $2,500 in fines if violated. This has stirred more people into questioning whether government bodies are effective in their handling of recent crises, and whether they ought to be reformed, or dismantled completely.

Yet some also want to support police who do choose to stand up to injustice. They condemn the officers who instigate and worsen altercations, and even suggest more thorough vetting, evaluation, and training before allowing officers to join the police force, in order for recruits to understand and use appropriately the power with which they are vested. Some point to instances of officers preventing their fellow law enforcement professionals from using inappropriate force, and reporting these instances.

There is a fine line, and many are afraid to align themselves completely in any one rhetoric. Some want to protest, but can't because the inherent risk to their safety could have disastrous effects on their families. Some fear the coming riots for the sake of their children and loved ones. Some others want to support peaceful protests, and condemn the looting and rioting; prosecute cops who abuse their power, and support the ones who don't. The line is hard to find as the world crashes down around us.

Frankly Folks, I am afraid. I want the brutality to stop, and I want citizens to be safe in the streets, both while protesting and in everyday life. I want police to fulfill the oath they took to serve and protect, without embarking on a power trip. And I'm not sure anymore how to do that.

Black Lives Matter. That much I know to be true.

Photos: Pixabay