I did not understand why protesters would antagonize the police to protest against police brutality. For me, it was ironic, futile and counterproductive.
I believe in protesting but in a peaceful way especially when the goal is to end violence. For me, if we want peace, then we should start it.
Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and David McAtee, who are all African-Americans, were killed by police officers, white police officers. The killings took place during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is surprising that such killings still happen in 2020. The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 and racism has existed from time immemorial.
I am one with the protesters who demand police reform now but I disagree with the decisions of those who hurt the police officers who had nothing to do with the deaths of Arbery, Taylor, Floyd and McAttee. I disagree with the looting, as well. Were they just taking advantage of the opportunity since most establishments are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and most cops are busy dealing with the riots?
Thanks to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, many of my questions related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests have been answered. The op-ed written by the African-American basketball legend, who played for the National Basketball Association from 1969 to 1989, on the Los Angeles Times is a must-read.
I still do not believe that protesters should be violent against police officers in an effort to end police brutality and I certainly do not think looting during the protests is necessary. But at least I understand why these are happening now.
Here are five important explanations from Abdul-Jabbar. I let him do the explaining himself by quoting sentences from his op-ed.
1. The black community has peacefully protested against violence for a long time already but efforts were futile.
“The black community is used to the institutional racism inherent in education, the justice system and jobs. And even though we do all the conventional things to raise public and political awareness — write articulate and insightful pieces in the Atlantic, explain the continued devastation on CNN, support candidates who promise change — the needle hardly budges.”
2. As compared to their white counterparts, Black Americans suffer more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“…COVID-19 has been slamming the consequences of all that home as we die at a significantly higher rate than whites, are the first to lose our jobs, and watch helplessly as Republicans try to keep us from voting.”
3. There is no way people protesting against the killings of Arbery, Taylor, Floyd and McAtee would still consider social distancing, which the government requires to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“..maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.”
4. People who are suffocated will do whatever it takes just to be able to breathe.
“What you should see when you see black protesters in the age of Trump and coronavirus is people pushed to the edge, not because they want bars and nail salons open, but because they want to live. To breathe.”
5. We cannot understand the actions of black protesters if we are blinded by our privileges that stem from the fact that we are not black.
“…what you see when you see black protesters depends on whether you’re living in that burning building or watching it on TV with a bowl of corn chips in your lap waiting for “NCIS” to start.”