WE MUST WORK TOGETHER
TO CHANGE TOGETHER
There are so many layers to the unrest we’ve
witnessed this weekend with the protests
sparked by the police-involved death of
George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Here in New York, the vast majority of those who
took to the streets demanding justice were peaceful.
There were no fewer than a half-dozen protests
across the five boroughs on Saturday. Most of the
protesters — especially those in Queens, where
the demonstrations did not escalate — exercised
their First Amendment rights with respect for the
community, the mission and themselves. Police officers
largely stood back and let the protests happen
with little interference.
But then, in what Mayor Bill de Blasio described
as “pockets” of Brooklyn and Manhattan,
all hell broke loose.
Physical struggles between cops and protesters.
Police vehicles torched. Businesses vandalized.
And some cops used very questionable force
against demonstrators. The struggles continued
into the week.
Each side blames the other for provocation.
Each side has merit in their arguments — yet each
side also has responsibility for the chaos that ensued.
Yet this situation is not just about riots; it’s
much deeper than that.
There’s anger and outrage everywhere, and it
is more than justified — though violence isn’t. To
not acknowledge and understand that anger and
outrage is to willfully ignore the situation.
Look at the nation we live in.
For decades, Black and Hispanic Americans
have been treated like second-class citizens by
bad cops in police forces across the country. More
often than not, acts of unjustified brutality result
in exonerations or dead-end investigations, without
justice for victims who were harmed or killed
In the present, the economy is in shambles
while more than 100,000 people have died from the
COVID-19 pandemic. Even this virus has underscored
our unequal society: Most of the victims of
this illness are people of color.
The police find themselves in a tough place of
their own. The majority of cops who respect an individual’s
rights and serve with integrity are tarnished
by every bad cop who doesn’t. Every time
there’s a police-involved death like Floyd’s, they
all take a hit.
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Protesters march near the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
They then have to face angry throngs who hurl
insults and objects at them. That leads some of
those cops to cross the line in an instinctive response
to protect their colleagues and themselves.
And then they become objects of further scorn.
We are caught as a society in many vicious cycles
that, more and more each day, resemble one
giant death spiral.
There’s only one way out of it: Changes in government
to finally fulfill our American declaration,
set 244 years ago, that “all men are created
And to do that, we must work together — protesters
and police, community activists and law
enforcement unions, elected leaders and police officials
— to rebuild communities and ensure that
every police department in America has the besttrained
men and women who can keep the peace
while always fulfilling “equal justice under the