She was being interviewed by a reporter for The Nation magazine, about her campaign to represent her part of Mississippi as a delegate of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention, held that year in Atlantic City, NJ, and she was talking about life under Jim Crow, where Blacks could not vote, and were persistently denied justice in most avenues of life.
Fast-forward 47 years to the last two weeks in Minneapolis, where Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd last May. Although cable news is running the trial live, every day, I cannot bear to watch it for more than a minute at a time, because I get heartsick, and then angry, and then heartsick again. I am sick and tired of feeling sick and angry.
We really have not come extremely far since the days of Jim Crow, have we? The police enforce white supremacy, disregard Black lives, and by so doing continue the terrorism Black folk have endured since the first slave ship reached the future USA in 1526. Ferocious cruelty kept the enslave people from rising. Police shootings have replaced lynching, but it is the same goal. In some places white folk admit that white folk need control, and the cops are the agents now, more than the Klan. My police chief nephew teaches de-escalation techniques and tells me there are hard-core racists in almost every police force. Not near all police officers, but enough to create an ethos of ‘justified’ repression and intimidation of more fair-minded other officers.
And now, in the penultimate week of Chauvin’s murder trial, we get another murder of an unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright. In Minneapolis! Last Sunday! Two hours after our Sunday Service ended.
Good-hearted people are searching for ways to reduce these killings – reduce the excessive force – to near-zero, beginning with unarmed response to most calls, citing and releasing for a hearing rather than arrests for non-violent acts, an end to no-knock warrants for entering residences, and recruiting more Officers of color. What is your idea about what to do to make the police less lethal and more friendly to minorities and everyone?
Rev. Leland Bond-Upson