Are you for the police or are you for the demonstrators? That seems to be the newest political polarization. Like most, I’m for both. Here’s how I see it.
George Floyd, an African American, 46, died at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis on May 25. A video of the occurrence set off a wave of protests throughout the United States and internationally.
Former policeman Derek Chauvin now faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers are now charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder and second-degree aiding and abetting manslaughter.
But charges took too long. The local prosecutor even indicated there might be exculpatory evidence. That enraged people. They not only protested the death of George Floyd but also protested other incidents of police abuse, striking a chord with many, especially African Americans.
The right to protest is granted by our First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law ... [to deny] the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
I don’t know who began attacking whom. I do know police vehicles were burned, looting occurred and other property damage happened. I have seen stones, bricks and more thrown at police. Obviously, that’s not a right and is illegal. And, understandably, it is hard to quell one’s rage when you are the target.
President Donald Trump, for his part, displayed autocratic predispositions in responding, “If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”
That’s not a servant leader serving people they lead. That’s an autocrat, one whose people serve the leader. In fact, our president has described himself as a “cheerleader,” instead of a leader.
He also threatened antifa with sanctions, even though there is no antifa organization. Rather, it is a loose group of anarchists.
From my porch, I see the looters and anarchists as common criminals taking advantage of a peaceful protest, rather than ideologists of a cause.
Nonetheless, it escalated and other incidents occurred.
In Louisville, a barbecue restaurant owner was inadvertently shot and killed, apparently by police or National Guardsmen.
That, of course, wasn’t all. Clashes occurred in 140 cities and at least five people died, as of a week ago.
Our West Virginia history teaches us how events can get out of hand.
In 1912, our miners went on strike for better pay, better working conditions and more. In response, coal companies hired Baldwin-Felts agents, equipping them with high-powered rifles. Socialist Party activists then supplied miners with weapons.
The coal companies responded by increasing their forces, the governor proclaimed martial law and, years later, the miners finally rebelled against the rule of coal operators in the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed conflict in U.S. labor history.
It is our human nature that, if you harm one of mine, I defend them. They might be a scallywag, but I’m for them, regardless of whether they are a protester, police officer, coal miner or mine owner.
Everyone who has ever seen an episode of “Law & Order” understands how closely prosecutors and police work. So, if a mine guard kills my brother, I won’t accept the company investigating themselves.
Likewise, we shouldn’t assume protesters would accept local prosecutors’ investigations of local police.
Not a solution, but a positive step would be to have federal prosecutors immediately investigate all such events as a requirement. Knowing such review will occur will deter such events from happening.
We also need a quarterback as president, not a cheerleader. Therefore, we should elect a servant leader this fall, not an autocrat.
So, yes, I support peaceful protesters. And yes, I support our local police. I’m for both. Most of us are.