Black Lives Matter protest draws thousands in Brooklyn Thousands upon thousands stood side by side at Grand Army Plaza on Sunday in solidarity for Black Lives Matter. Some brought signs, others painted a portrait ...
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In the midst of a raging pandemic that is on track to kill over 200,000 Americans by the end of 2020, record high unemployment, and a seething, angry and long-in-coming national protest that has shocked the far-removed denizens of the seats of governmental power in the United States, the country is now at an historical crossroads. Americans - Black, white, Asian and others - a kaleidoscope of a rapidly growing racial and ethnic rainbow, are marching against injustice in unprecedented numbers. In this moment in time, coming on the tsunami of Black blood spilled by trigger-happy white cops, protesters in small towns and big cities across America, thousands of "ordinary people" are giving voice to the grief and anger that generations of Black Americans have suffered at the hands of a corrupt criminal justice system that was supposed to protect them. Young and old, black and white, family and friends have joined together to say to the enablers in power: enough.
The unconscionable examples of blatant and unabashed racism over the last weeks and months come as all of America's communities of color have been hit hardest by the coronavirus and catastrophic job losses. And as the Black community and its allies march and protest, all of this is a perfect storm hitting Black Americans. Meanwhile, the MIA (Missing In Action) political leadership, led, no headed, by President Donald Trump tackily suggested that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." He's belatedly stage-managed a political recent re-election event at the White House touting a vapid, weak and impotent Executive Order that appears to "do something" about police brutality while pandering to his base by posturing as a "tough guy" on law and order.
But even as the protests and street marches continue, the real questions are: After weeks of anti-racist protests "what happens next? Can this earth-shattering and phenomenal response to the brutal, public murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, be channeled to secure lasting political change?
We are as a manner of speaking, in my opinion, in unchartered waters. We've seen the political sleight-of-hand magic and punting as politicians - from the president on down - try to placate public anger and outrage while giving a wink and nod to police departments across America. The implicit understanding is that this will blow away soon and it will be back to normal. Only, this time may well be radically different because this long-simmering issue comes in the midst of two other developments that have only fueled more public anger.
Had this new round of police murders of Black people not happened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fumbling, bumbling, inept and incompetent response by the Trump Administration that had it acted earlier based on the science and alarms sounded by its own health watchdog agencies, could have saved over 50,000 American lives, things might have been different.
The "Black Lives Matter" Movement led marches of a growing rainbow coalition protesting a 400-year old Black pandemic - white people killing unarmed Blacks - may well be a tipping point since this particular protest is not just "a black thing" and whites, progressive whites, are also involved and horrified that "their police officers" could be that brutal towards Black people. Thank the modern smartphone, social media and the Internet for that.
"Marches are a tactic," political strategist and activist Noam Chomsky says. "Not much has emerged about strategy, or even specific articulated goals, beyond major reform of police practices and responsibilities." These tactics are both necessary and important because they shine a light on injustices and wrongdoing but rarely articulate a coherent set of solutions. So, when the public outbursts abate the questions as to direction and next steps are bound to arise. Marches and protests are more about emotion than cold, sober reforms. Protests that spill over into the streets are the result of breaking the control valve that the political establishment and law enforcement have exerted thus far.
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