This is something I wrote late on Monday, was going to post on Tuesday but #blackouttuesday needed a voice of silence. Now I’m posting on Thursday evening. Protests continue, the curfew has been moved up to 8pm, some looting and rioting continues across New York and the country. Several shops near us were broken into and now boarded up, but unlike earlier this week I don’t hear any sirens or people outside right now (11.30pm).
It seems rather insignificant to write about our time in the Catskills when there is war on the streets, black citizens don’t feel safe, even when they’re obeying the law; journalists can’t do their job, without fear of being assaulted or arrested; the ‘leader’ of the country can’t say “Black lives matter”, and would rather incite violence than try to de-escalate the situation, when the powers capable of holding the President accountable are too cowardly to do anything or, simply also complicit.
It’s 10.20pm now, in 40 minutes a curfew will be in place for NYC. August 1st, 1943, the last time a curfew was placed in NYC. 77 years ago, the reason for the curfew? Harlem Riots after a black man was shot by police. The riots that followed saw at least five men killed, with lack of specifics on the cause.
The latest protests were triggered by George Floyd’s killing by a policeman. What has followed are many disturbing videos and stories of the police acting overly aggressively. Is it an easy job? No. Are there some people mixed in with the genuine protestors and acting as aggravators? Yes. Should any of this be resolved through escalation? No.
George Floyd is just the latest name, just as there are several parallels to 77 years ago, this isn’t new or infrequent. The focus is on America right now but reflecting on my own country, this isn’t isolated to America. Nor is the police violence or white privilege restricted to one city. It’s a systemic problem across more than only one country.
There are two videos/speeches worth watching below. One from a rapper and activist and son of a policeman. The other from the brother of George Floyd. The common theme, change comes at the voting booth. But only voting for the President is not enough, real change is required across multiple levels. And education is required too – it’s not enough for only those subject to racism to try and drive the change.
Addendum – we’ve had a couple of discussions at work on this and there have been some materials and advice shared.
Two easy actions stand out:
- The need to vote and ensure you’re registered for absentee voting is important, who knows if we’ll be sheltering in place again come November. Local elections are just as important at driving change as Presidential Elections (true also in UK for local elections)
- Completing the census, ensuring you’re counted to be represented.
Unfortunately, being a legal alien I’m not able to vote but doing my best to educate myself. A resource/website/organization I have come across has been Join Campaign Zero – a wealth of research and everything backed up by data/facts.