Home Night Light by Jamie Miller Streets on fire: chaos in the wake of George Floyd’s death

Streets on fire: chaos in the wake of George Floyd’s death

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A column straight from the unorthodox mind of Jamie Miller. Often written during the middle of the night, Miller provides reviews of TV shows and movies, books, and details life through from his perspective (artwork by Abby Haywood/The Collegiate).

By Jamie Miller – 11:27 p.m. 

Greetings night time readers, it is I “jaded eyed” Jamie Miller here with another somber story. Race relations have always been uneasy, we’ve all known it for years. It has been like that as long as this country has been around. From the civil rights movement, to Rodney King, to now. Relations have always been a powder keg, however with the death of George Floyd, I fear, we may have lit the fuse. From Atlanta, to Los Angeles, to even The White House and our own back door of Grand Rapids, these protesters are marching through the streets leaving fire, graffiti and destruction in their wake. As if 2020 isn’t challenging enough, we go from the coronavirus to chaos in the streets. We go from disease to destruction. But does it help anyone? 

Now you may be wondering, what caused all of this? What could have enraged these people so much? A lifetime of white people invoking racist comments, violence and abuse, and murder against black people unjustly. Well, it’s really not one thing, it’s a bunch of things. From the shooting of Trayvon Martin, to the slaying of Ahmaud Arbery, to most recently the death of George Floyd. Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis, died in police custody after a caucasian officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for eight minutes, a few of them after he stopped moving. Chauvin has over 10 complaints of misconduct. Over 10, and yet he was still on the force. Perhaps if these complaints would have been taken seriously none of this would have happened?

However this does not excuse what the rioters are doing. They are not just marching with signs, they are not just shouting obscenities, they are not even just shouting and throwing things at police officers. No they are basically like an angry rattlesnake, they are striking at anything that moves. From police officers, to random cars and businesses, to even journalists who are simply there to cover the story and give them a voice. They trashed the CNN building in Atlanta, torched a Minneapolis police precinct, and are protesting in front of The White House, too. In several cities across the country, police and rioters have been locked in almost a sick game of chess, the police do not wish to use force as all it would take is for one protester to fall to cause the rest of the horde of rioters to swarm which would cause numerous injuries and possibly death. It’s a tense situation that only takes one spark to ignite.If the protesters push the police too far the police will turn their weapons on them. It is a quintessential example of brinkmanship. And if I’m being honest it scares the heck out of me. And the sick thing… I understand why they are angry. I get it, they’ve been attacked, murdered and ignored. And they’ve finally had enough. They’ve snapped, and I fear now that the fire has ignited there’s no putting it out. No one will be able to ignore this anymore. 

However, while I understand their rage, I cannot condone what they are doing. How does this help? It hurts the cause in the long run. All the rioters are accomplishing is pointless destruction and pain. They’re treating this like a game of Grand Theft Auto. They seem to be not only shameless in their actions, but also seem to be reveling in it.  This is not a game. The rioters are causing real destruction. And some of these businesses have suffered horrible damage that will cost thousands to repair if they’re lucky. Some may have to shut down permanently. Saturday in Grand Rapids numerous stores had their windows smashed, were looted, and journalists all over the country were injured covering the violence. And sadly our president, our leader is being far from helpful or reassuring. As far as I can tell all President Donald Trump’s really done is bash the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, comparing him negatively to general Douglas McArthur and General George Patton which is completely random and actually kind of infuriating. And when Trump’s not doing that he’s either blaming the left, retweeting a tweet by a woman mocking the damage done to CNN or not even acknowledging it at all.

So cities are on fire, businesses are being destroyed, and people are in fear. The sad part of all this is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Throughout history peaceful protests are often more effective than violent ones. From the marches and protests of the Civil Rights movement, Betty Williams efforts to stop violence in Ireland, much of the womans suffrage movement, to Nelson Mendala’s “fight” to end the apartheid, to many, many others. We need not always resort to violence to solve violence. You see I still believe in love, in the inherent light in the soul of every man, woman, and child’s heart, in hope…. And I will, forever and a day.

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