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  • Rebecca Branle

One Year. Too Many Years.

It's been one year. But it's also been hundreds of years.

One year ago we watched George Floyd breathe his last breath, calling for his mom, pleading for mercy. We watched Derrick Chauvin, clad proudly in the uniform of justice, press his knee harder into George Floyd's neck. He didn't care. He didn't see the human being in George Floyd.

The same way they didn't see the human being in Elijah McClain the year prior, or Emmett Till decades earlier, or the countless others in the days between and before.

It's telling, what makes a person speak out. I saw the rage over Colin Kaepernick's knee on a football field. I still see the rage over burnt about buildings and broken windows. But the rage was missing for a knee on a neck from those so aggrieved over a knee on astroturf. The rage over countless lives is missing with those so enraged over broken windows that can all be replaced. But how will George be replaced? How will Elijah? And Breonna and Sandra and Amhaud and Tamir and Trayvon?

If Tamir was your child, 12 years old, playing outside and gunned down by a police officer who had been dismissed from his previous job, deemed emotionally unstable and unfit for duty; if Tamir was your child and he was taken by this broken man and that man wasn't held responsible for his death, how would you respond? Is your child's life more valuable than a window? A storefront? If my child were taken and justice never came, if my chid were taken and his life was placed in a long line of other lives taken, with no justice, I'd light the world on fire. How much longer until we realize property damage is a symptom of a problem, not the problem? Crying about broken windows and ignoring broken lives reveals more about your broken humanity than you know.

I see it. Daily. I see the posts that say, "If you want to help your kids, teach them to respect police officers." It's always posted by a white person, always revealing their ignorance. Because Elijah and Tamir were children. They didn't disrespect, but they're still dead. Breonna was asleep, but she's still gone. George Floyd was unconscious and yet the knee remained.

I see it. Daily. I see the comparisons of the insurrection to last summer's riots. Hear me: riots are wrong. Property damage is wrong. But is a community acting out after hundreds of years of murder the same as a bunch of white folks who believe a lie storming our Capitol building, attempting to overthrow an election, because they're upset that their guy lost? Why don't we talk more about the officers who lost eyes, who suffered heart attacks, who lost fingers, who broke ribs, who had head injuries? Why was the knee on the football field not okay, but beating an officer with an American flag while storming the Capitol is? What would have happened if those folks, with their tactical gear and red hats and Trump flags had been met with tear gas and rubber bullets? Why aren't we talking about the real connection between last summer and January 6th - their root cause is the same: authority run amuck. Lies and injustice. White brutality.

It's been a year and it's been several lifetimes.

George Floyd woke up the masses. Some, some decided to march. Some decided to push back. Some decided to call senators and demand police reform. Some have examined their own biases and have promised to stop racism in its tracks, whenever it crosses their path. Some have done nothing.

Some have become emboldened and have clung more tightly to their hate. Because these folks are afraid. These folks are dangerous. These folks are passing voter suppression laws and trying to make sure our history remains whitewashed. These folks aren't patriots. These folks are cowards.

It's been a year and it's been several lifetimes.

Isn't it time you joined the chorus of voices saying, "Enough?"

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