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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 6/12/20

George Floyd Is Just One Victim

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George Floyd protests: Trump says 'this is a great day for George' as he boasts about US employment President Donald Trump has said that strong new jobs numbers marked a .great day. for George Floyd, the man whose killing last week sparked nationwide ...
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"We all saw what happened last week. We can't let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that's happening for our country. This is a great day for him. It's a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality."
- Donald Trump

Only in Donald Trump's America can news of a 13.3% unemployment rate, "on par with what the nation witnessed during the Great Depression", be considered cause for celebration. But with "nearly 7-in-10 voters [saying that] things in the U.S. are pretty seriously on the wrong track", Trump was desperate to highlight a positive. With thousands protesting in the streets and a pandemic that continues to claim about 1,000 American lives per day, he tried to put a positive spin on a devastating jobs report. After losing 20.5 million jobs in the previous month he assembled the press and the White House and bragged about the success of bringing 2.5 million (12%) of those jobs back.

To make his victory dance even stranger, Trump unexpectedly dragged the name of George Floyd into the conversation, claiming that this economic news would make it a "great day" for the man murdered at the hands of the police. Had Floyd not been given the death penalty without a trial for allegedly buying groceries with a counterfeit $20 bill, the day probably would have not been one filled with celebration. At the time of his death, he was still among the millions rendered unemployed by the pandemic that Trump ignored until it was too late. While the report that the president was celebrating showed that the unemployment rate for white workers showed "a decline of nearly two percentage points", the black unemployment rate actually rose slightly. So much for the "great, great day in terms of equality" that Trump was hawking.

The fact that Trump would ignore his own failures while trying to appropriate the death of Floyd for his own political gain should not be surprising. While he would like the American electorate to think that he has "done more for Black Americans...than any President in U.S. history, with the possible exception of...the late, great, Abraham Lincoln", he has consistently failed to address the systematic racism that led to the death of Floyd. Instead, he has often taken the opportunity to co-opt the message of those seeking reform and justice.

"sons of bitches"
-Donald Trump about NFL athletes kneeling in protest

As the practice of professional athletes peacefully kneeling in protest during the national anthem spread during the beginning of the Trump presidency, the issue of racism and police brutality was given a national platform. However, instead of addressing the concerns of the players, the president purposely misrepresented their actions as disrespect for the military and those who served. While now claiming to support peaceful protest, he used to his bully pulpit to help bring an end to these actions. Even now as the nation struggles with the issue of racism, Trump has revisited the issue, not to atone for his mistakes but to double down on his divisive rhetoric: "We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag - NO KNEELING!"

As protests enter their third week, Trump has used the same type of strategy to distract from the message that the protesters are presenting to their leaders. While thousands are engaged in actions protected by the First Amendment, the president and his supporters have focused on the minority engaged in looting and other illegal behavior who "were overwhelmingly local residents taking advantage of the chaos." Without evidence, Trump has accused ANTIFA of perpetrating violence and has said that he will designate this "group" as a terrorist organization. He has yet to condemn the right-wing, white supremacists arrested in Las Vegas in possession of Molotov cocktails in an alleged plot "to cause destruction during protests in Las Vegas". While Trump had no problem finding "fine" people in a group of white supremacists, he has given the blanket label of "thugs" to all of the people protesting outside the White House.

The one message that Trump does seem to have heard from the protesters is that Joe Biden's crime bill has contributed to the police state mentality that many Americans find themselves living under. This combined with institutional racism has created the powder keg that the country now finds itself sitting upon. However, any points that this criticism scored against his November opponent was negated by Trump directing the military and federal police agencies to act against peaceful protesters so that he could walk out of his White House bunker and hold a bible in front of a church that did not welcome his visit. A president that insists upon dominating peaceful protesters, hides in a bunker rather than hearing their complaints and describes himself as the Law and Order President is catering to the same forces that called for Biden's crime bill.

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Carl Petersen is a parent, an advocate for students with special education needs, an elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council, a member of the LAUSD's CAC, and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, the Network for Public Education (NPE) Action endorsed him, and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a " (more...)

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