I didn’t wear a hoodie for Trayvon. I didn’t march to Save Our Girls or Kony. I didn’t do the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” march for Mike Brown in Ferguson. I didn’t do the “Can’t Breath” march for Eric Garner in NYC.
You won’t see me out there. Nope.
While I can’t deny that I’m Caucasian, I can say that as a motorcycle enthusiast I’ve experienced law enforcement arrogance that allows an armed “professional” to be less responsible of my rights than a typical citizen. And I’ll acknowledge up front that I can’t represent or fully appreciate any of the issues through a racial lens or what African-American people feel.
It’s not that I don’t believe in any of these causes. I’m not in denial that there are aggressive LEO’s out there who push the limits with their actions. Just this week an Oregon State Police detective was prosecuted for destroying evidence and lying about it. And a Clackamas County Sheriff was fired for mishandling and then lying about evidence, forcing the dismissal of 10 cases! Clearly an affront to all Americans.
It’s just that I’m not convinced marching in 2014 is really going to make a difference. But, let’s back up for minute before I explain why.
About four years ago I attended a day-long training session at the Oregon Public Safety Academy (DPSST) on law enforcement using deadly force in making arrests. You can read about it HERE. I was in “Tactical Village” – a sprawling complex with faux buildings, roadways, cars, buses and the typical neighborhood debris you’d find in any urban environment. We had Glock’s that fired paint-pellet bullets and went through various training scenarios to simulate real-world incidents. I spent several hours responding to chaotic, dangerous or unpredictable situations in an effort to serve others or as they say… “walk in a LEO’s shoes.” Suffice to say that my lack of split-second decisions got me killed repeatedly and made me realize how we all should talk about citizen retraining, so critics will at least wait until they have all the facts of a case before calling in the high-profile, paid-to-incite activists.
So, why do I sit behind my computer and criticize some of the marching or protest efforts? This isn’t 1960 when the act of sitting in a restaurant sparked a nationwide movement that changed some things. It’s 2014 and we live in a “right now for the moment” world or I prefer to call it a bandwagon, hashtag advocacy society. People create protest hashtag campaigns faster than a drive-thru burger joint. Then along comes the funky complementary graphics they believe it provides everyone a sense of solidarity. If its trending, we’re hashtagging it. Get your hashtag t-shirt or beanie now!
But, once the thrill is gone, so are we.
Think I’m trippin? What happened to the girls everyone wanted to save a few months back? Where are they now? How many of those hoodies everyone posed in put Zimmerman in jail or helped to pay for legal fees for Trayvon’s family? Where have all the occupy chanters gone? What’s changed in 3- years? So, how are these new protests around the country stopping cops from killing or from spraying mace in the faces of the marching kids today or tomorrow? If you can answer that then I may reconsider my position.
People lose interest when they realize the issue is more complicated than a hashtag. They can’t sit still long enough to ensure change before racing off to the next hashtag driven controversy.
I’m disgusted by much of what I’ve seen – on both sides. We have constitutional rights to a legal system that treats all equally and fairly.
But, the real work happens when there’s no marching, or when there’s no protesting. Do we really need high-profile, paid-to-incite activists flying in on carbon-spewing private jets to rally the disenfranchised? The real work happens at the polls during the primaries or a non-presidential election. The real work happens as members of your community-based organizations, at your local city council town hall and in our churches. The real work is not on social media and a race to the next crowd gathering. Social media is great for promoting a message, but not change itself. Where is the solidarity to do the real and very difficult work?!
Marching for a few hours or a couple weeks is not going to change anything.
Photo taken by author.
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