Heartbreaking. Infuriating. Confusing.
There are many other emotions, but these are the first to come to mind — and heart.
I saw the video. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
A man that I would learn was named George Floyd was in handcuffs, lying on the ground beside a car. A police officer, whose name I would learn is Derek Chauvin, had his knee on Floyd’s neck. He kept it there for more than five minutes — until George Floyd was no longer moving. Until George Floyd was dead.
I had seen the exact same scenario play out on an episode of “Blue Bloods,” and Frank Reagan handled the incident swiftly and justly. But that was television. This was real life — and real death.
The heartbreak and the anger and the confusion did not end there. The aftermath was in some ways very predictable and in other ways was — well, heartbreaking, infuriating, and confusing.
George Floyd was a black man. Derek Chauvin is white. Immediately this became a racial incident. It may have been. I don’t pretend to know whether Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd because he was black or if Derek Chauvin would have been an equal opportunity violator.
I also don’t know anything about George Floyd or what he had done, other than what I have since read online. But I know that what he did was not a capital offense, and I know that Derek Chauvin was hired to protect and serve, not to be judge, jury and executioner.
I have also read that, according to public record, he had 18 complaints on his official record as a police officer with two letters of reprimand. I don’t know if that is a lot or not. Law enforcement is a tough job. Nobody appreciates our officers more than me.
But I don’t have to be an expert to know that Chauvin should be facing a criminal indictment — and a fair trial. Maybe he is.
But I also know that two wrongs will never equal a right. My mama taught me that a long time ago, and in Minneapolis, protests over Floyd’s death have turned violent, as is so often the case. As is too often the case.
And seeing the images of the rioting and looting in that city is heartbreaking. And infuriating. And confusing.
I have seen the videos of rioters in a Target store. One man was trying to break into a cash register with a hammer. Several people, with huge grins on their faces, were carrying home looted televisions. Nothing says justice like a stolen TV.
Cars were burning. I saw an affordable housing complex, under construction, in flames. That’ll show them. We’ll burn down our neighborhood’s own new housing.
Abhorrent behavior was met with abhorrent behavior, giving many the opportunity to shift the focus from the injustice done to George Floyd and putting it on the thugs who were burning and looting the city.
What was it that Gandhi said? “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
But this isn’t an eye for an eye. This is misguided fear and anger at best and a concocted excuse for violence, destruction and theft at worst.
And in other cities across America, notably Louisville, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, protestors have clashed with policemen. Here in Georgia we are dealing with the aftermath of the shooting death of a young black man in Brunswick as three white men have been charged in his murder.
We have more than enough trouble in this country and this state than we can say grace over. The economy has nosedived due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are afraid to venture from their homes. People are out of work. People are losing loved ones. People are looking for someone to blame for their problems.
People are heartbroken. People are angry. People are confused.
I didn’t say white people. I didn’t say black people. I didn’t say brown people.
I said people.
As trite as it may sound to some, we are all just people. Right is right and wrong is wrong, and we need to seek truth and justice without regard to race or creed or color. We just do.
I pray that here in our state we can — and that we will.