George Floyd’s murder—oh, yeah, we’re getting back to normal!
As the country slowly began to “normalize,” three murders of unarmed black people rocked the nation—including Ahmaud Arbery (by an ex-law enforcement officer and his son), Breonna Taylor (killed by police in her sleep), and George Floyd, whose pleas didn’t stop a Minneapolis police officer from pressing on the back of his neck with a knee for eight minutes as Floyd lay on the ground handcuffed with three other officers standing by.
Yes, beaches filled up. Shopping malls opened. Barbers cut hair.
And police killed black people.
Of course, Trump continued with his social media rants and harassments, including a tweet that incited violence against protestors of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Protests. Burning buildings. Pandemic? What pandemic?
Well, I’m not having it. Normal was not great the last time we left it. Before the pandemic, in the midst of a “great economy,” homelessness encampments hit every major city, opioids continued to take more lives, poverty and the so-called wealth gap grew.
Stocks rising and more tax dollars in wealthier hands did nothing to change this.
We don’t need change—we need a deep and total imaginal, societal and cultural transformation. Now with over 100,000 people dead from Covid-19, we need an overhaul of the whole kit and kaboodle—the economy, the political structure, law enforcement and mass incarceration systems, the schools, healthcare—the very capitalist base and superstructure. The answer is right next to every problem, what needs to be born in every crisis.
We can’t go back. We must move forward.
We can start by holding every police department accountable. In Los Angeles County, law enforcement has killed over 600 people, almost all black and brown, since 2012. We can start with justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
But we can’t stop there.
I was 11 years old when Watts burned in 1965, my old neighborhood. I was 16 when police and sheriff attacked a largely peaceful Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War that led to my arrest and three deaths. I was in Miami when Overton blew up again. I returned to L.A. from Chicago soon after the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising to work with gang peace leaders. I worked with and helped train leaders of the Ferguson rebellion after the murder of Michael Brown. And I marched in 2014 with thousands of people in Salinas to protest the police killings of five unarmed Mexican and Salvadoran farmworkers.
We can’t go back. I support the protests, even if in some cases buildings are burned (a pattern that often starts with police instigators). The protests don’t have to be perfect. But the worldwide response should be. You have to remove the systems, values, and institutions that undergird all the travesties—including pandemics!
Next level imagining, visioning, strategies, organizing, poetry, song, theater, art, gatherings ….
Next level, people.