. . . these violent outbursts stem from a country that has yet to apologize to the black community for the sins of slavery, police brutality and a lack of civil rights over the decades.

by Paul Moomjean

paulmoomjean@yahoo.com

Three months ago we were a nation bored in the house and we were in the house bored. We were ordering takeout, making TikTok videos, and waiting for a $1,200 check. Our frustrations had to deal with unemployment checks and social distancing. Everything just felt like a giant annoyance. Flash forward to this past weekend, and the tensions in the country finally exploded in the form we have feared for decades. It’s like the 1992 Los Angeles riots met the 1967 national riots, and this time the revolution was televised. 

On May 25, 2020, when the tragic death of George Floyd happened at the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, supported by the local authorities on site, we could see that violence and unrest would boil up — but not at the organized and destructive manner in which it has. While the frustrations are justified, the reactions are not, and after three months of lockdown, the country used the death of the innocent to create havoc in the name of a man who may not have ever wanted this to begin with. While the blood speaks, nothing about Floyd’s life seems to suggest he would want the country ripped apart. He was a good-natured bouncer from Texas who made a few amateur porn films on the side. This was not a political man. Yet his death has become the springboard for political revolution. 

As many peaceful protesters decided to forgo the dangers of mass demonstrations during the COVID-19 pandemic, other groups piggy-backed on their political machine, so as to blend the marchers and looters throughout the nation, creating havoc and confusion. Destroying cars, shopping centers and government buildings, any chance of peaceful protests were annihilated within hours. While some chanted “George Floyd!” others screamed “kill the white boys!” 

Many protesters interviewed by MSNBC and CNN expressed anger about the oppression they faced, but after throwing bricks and fire into private owned businesses, aren’t the business owners now also victims of violence and oppression? Just like Floyd, they did not deserve this act of terrorism. 

In fact, the accused officers were fired the next day. So, what are they protesting, exactly? If anything, this was the quickest response to police brutality in our modern system. 

Many argue this is the response to pain and injustice. Yet, based on footage, many were laughing like they were auditioning to play the Joker in the next Batman film. Video captured people stealing horses and looting fancy clothing stores. What we really have here are angry people who have been locked up for three months at home, who because they can wear masks in public without suspicion, decided to be faceless vigilantes, and destroy local communities many were not even members of. In fact, press conference after press conference by local mayors stressed that most arrested were from other neighboring counties. So, the outsiders set the cities on fire while the local citizens hid inside their homes.    

After watching the tragic death of George Floyd and then watching the country burn, I felt a great sadness come over me. Everything that has happened recently is the product of numerous factors: Racist police officers, a flame-throwing media, opportunists from both the NAACP and the NRA, radical politicians like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders calling for revolutions, puffing up their bases with the idea that everything is rigged against them and that they need to go to the streets. 

The far left and the far right are equally guilty in this display of civil mockery. Most of all, though, these violent outbursts stem from a country that has yet to apologize to the black community for the sins of slavery, police brutality and a lack of civil rights over the decades.  

Yet, even though there is pain, the acting out against others undeserving is never justified. Martin Luther King repeatedly stated this during his era of civil rights marches and public displays of building a better world.  

Yet, what was birthed out of good intentions has now taken on a life of its own. No longer are these protests about racial reformation. The actions I’m seeing feel like anger toward an unfocused enemy now. It may have started with the death of George Floyd, but it no longer seems to honor his unjust end. And like many causes, they seem to lose focus and become just as horrifying as acts they sought out to end.