Civil rights leader John Lewis said, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”
I’ve seen the video from Kenosha, Wis., of Jacob Blake trying to get in his car while a policeman is grabbing his T-shirt and pumping seven bullets into his back and spine. No solid reason yet for why that happened. “Working on learning the facts,” the spokesman says. Nor has the policeman yet been arrested for attempted murder. It’s “attempted” because Mr. Blake, who is Black, is in a hospital bed, paralyzed, unable yet to truly speak for himself beyond telling his mother he doesn’t want people out in the streets on his behalf.
I’ve seen the second video, within two days, as people both Black and White walk the streets in peaceful protest, a 17-year-old White boy shows up strutting the street among the protestors, carrying an (illegal) assault rifle, waving it around and finally shooting three of the protestors, killing two of them. He continues down the street walking away with no one stopping him. His mother drives him to and from the protest. Is she proud? He was arrested in the adjoining state of Illinois the next day.
The police saw him. Others saw him. The people who called attention to him were ignored. Nothing that they said or did caused the police to bring him under control, on site.
I’m having trouble sleeping. Now and then I feel my breath catch. Beginning to understand “I can’t breathe,” and why Black Lives Matter. Wondering what in hell is going on? I don’t need to belabor the inequities here, surely it’s obvious. Surely.
I’d like to stand on the local street corner with a Black Lives Matter sign. I’ve marched in the past, even been in some of the current marches. But I’m approaching old age and, yes, becoming afraid. I don’t need to belabor the reason(s) why.
Anybody out there feeling like me, that this is not right, not fair, not just?
Is this how the good Germans felt when the storm troopers marched through their towns? Afraid of the little boys with the big guns? I don’t like this feeling, so this letter is my “say something,” my “do something.” So little and way too late. We must not let this go by. We need the laws that we already have to be equally enforced. This must change.
If you are quiet and listen with attention you can hear the voice of Congressman Lewis, as quoted by Jon Meacham on Aug. 30, 2020 Sunday Morning CBS: “Speak up, speak out, and vote.”
Patsy Brookshire is a resident of South Beach