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Talking about racism, protests, and rioting

With stories all over the news, internet and social media, it is no wonder my son heard about George Floyd, the African American man who died due to police brutality. There is no excuse for the police officers’ actions. And Floyd’s death has sparked outrage and protests.

It was news of these protests that brought our son into our bedroom Saturday night. Now there is nothing wrong with people speaking out, marching, or protesting to get their opinions out about the travesty of what happened and demanding change.

But it is what happened in many cities during the protests that alarmed Jase. And that was the rioting and looting.

We first talked about the May 25 incident that sparked this. We talked about Floyd’s death and how much of the outrage was because Floyd was black, and the police officer was white. While racism has been the focus, I hope that people would be outraged no matter the color of the skin of the victim. It is simple – the police officers’ (all four of them) behavior was wrong. Police brutality is wrong.

But the outrage at Floyd’s death and the protests, the calls for change are not wrong. They are necessary. We need to demand justice. The officer that pinned Floyd’s neck with his knee has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers on the scene will likely be charged too. All four have been fired.

We need to demand change. We need to stop racial profiling. We need to stop police brutality. However, the rioting and the looting is not what is needed. Nothing good comes from this. In no way does breaking into businesses and stealing items, in lighting cars or buildings on fire, or attacking people in wheelchairs, reporters or police officers do anything to right the wrong or change future behavior. In fact, it does the exact opposite.

It is these images of destruction and police in riot gear that concerned Jase. We talked about people having pent up anger at a string of similar incidents and that in the heat of the moment, people do not think clearly. They see the police as opposition. They begin to see fighting as a legitimate choice even if it is against figures of authority. They are desperate to be heard. But fighting is rarely the answer. Nor is resulting to the criminal acts of destroying and stealing property.

While I feel outrage about the death of George Floyd, I am also disgusted by the behavior of these people who chose the wrong course of action in response to a previous wrong action. Two wrongs still do not make a right.

While I am unsure how much of this complicated issue Jase understands, these are important issues that need to be discussed now and in the future in our family and in society. We need to keep working toward a change.

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