To End Violence, We Must Excise Generations of Institutional Racism (Video)

When widespread protests erupt, especially when destruction of property is involved, there is inevitably a great deal of media attention on the “more interesting”–i.e., violent–aspects.

Peaceful protests rarely get attention.

But what happens when the law enforcement expected to return peace to tumultuous demonstrations inflame violence instead of helping to prevent it?

As attention shifts away from the suffering the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is causing this country and toward the violent protests exploding nationwide over the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd, we can no longer deny the role police practices have in contributing to generational cycles of violence.

In New York, for example, NYPD vehicles drove into protesters, reminiscent of activist Heather Heyer’s death during the Charlottesville, Va. protests of 2017 after white supremacist James Fields plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Another NYPD officer threw to the ground protester Dounya Zayer after he called her a “stupid f*$%#@! bitch” for asking why she was being ordered off the street.

In Brooklyn, an officer threw open his car door into a protester as the officer sped past.

In Louisville, Ky., police shot NBC reporter Kaitlin Rust with pepper balls.

CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew were arrested live on the air early Friday.

A horse-mounted Houston, Texas officer trampled a peaceful protester.

In Minneapolis, police operated in tandem with the Minnesota National Guard to fire paint canisters at people standing on their porch.

And, in Atlanta, Ga.:

While it is true most police officers are decent, honest, moral people dedicated to upholding the law and keeping peace, it is also true that some of those laws and practices they are upholding are racist and reactionary.

We will never see an end to violence as long as we continue meeting violence with brutality.

We will never see an end to police brutality until we address the systemic inequalities permeating a law enforcement system still operating as if it is enforcing slavery.

As a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi famously says:

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.